The Ultimate Guide for 316L Stainless Steel

316L stainless steel

Are you undecided to use the grade 316L stainless steel? Reading this guide might help you be convinced.

In this guide, we will discuss its properties and uses. We will also learn the best ways to care for it.

We hope that, by the end of this guide, you will have all the information you need to make a decision about using 316L stainless steel in your own projects.

Definition of 316L Stainless Steel

Definition of 316L Stainless Steel

316L stainless steel is austenitic and marine-grade steel. The “L” signifies that the materials possess “low” carbon content as well as molybdenum in their composition. The specific grade is widely known among manufacturers for having unmatched resistant properties. As such, it becomes one of the most vital stainless steel grades used in widespread engineering and welding projects.

Materials with low carbon just like the 316L grade perfectly work on any sheet metal fabrication. It will enable minimizing the outcome of carbide precipitation during operation.

History

The grade 316L was developed in the early 1900s by the German company ThyssenKrupp.

It was developed to provide greater anti-corrosion than traditional 304 stainless steel. Its low carbon also helps to avoid sensitization during welding. In addition, the molybdenum content also helps to increase its resistance to chlorine-bearing solutions, making it suitable for use in medical and marine industries.

As of now, 316L stainless steel is one of the most commonly used grades of stainless steel in many industries.

Chemical Composition

Understanding the composition of 316L stainless steel is important in order to understand its properties. Also, it helps you learn how it can be used in various applications.

Element % Present
(C) Carbon 0.03
(Si) Silicon 1.00
(Mn) Manganese 2.00
(P) Phosphorous 0.045
(S) Sulfur 0.0151)
(Cr) Chromium 16.50 – 18.50
(Ni) Nickel 10.00 – 13.00
(N) Nitrogen 0.10
(Mo) Molybdenum 2.00 – 2.50
(Fe) Iron Balance

316L Stainless Steel Properties

You can explore both the mechanical and physical properties of grade 316 below.

Having this knowledge can help to determine the best ways to process, shape, and use the material. As well as how to protect it from environmental influences.

Mechanical Properties:

Tensile Strength 810 MPa (min)
Yield Strength 275 MPa (min)
Elongation 40% (min)

Physical Properties:

Density 8.0 g/cm3
Melting Point 1375-1400 °C
Modulus of Elasticity 193 GPa
Thermal Expansion 9.2 x 10-6/K
Thermal Conductivity 16.3 W/m-K
Electrical Resistivity 0.000072 Ω-cm

Applications

Wondering where usually the 316L stainless steel is used? It is a versatile stainless steel material for producing products such as:

Jewelry & Watches
Jewelry & Watches

316L grade of stainless steel is often used to produce jewelry and watches, as it is highly resistant to tarnishing. Additionally, its strength makes it an ideal material for:

  • Bracelets
  • Pendants
  • Rings
  • And other jewelry items

Medical Equipment

The stainless steel grade 316L material is often used to make:

  • Hospital beds
  • Medical carts
  • Surgical instruments
  • Cardiac pacemakers
  • Medical trays
  • Medical containers

Kitchenware

316L stainless steel is an ideal material for producing kitchenware due to its nonporous and non-toxic properties. Kitchenware includes:

  • Microwave
  • Stockpot
  • Frying Pan
  • Soup Pot
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Steamer Basket
  • Skillet
  • Roasting Rack
  • Kitchen Utensil Set

Architectural Structures

316L stainless steel is commonly used in architectural structures due to its superior anti-corrosion feature, durability, and aesthetic. It is often used in building:

  • Facades
  • Trim
  • Decorative features
  • Railings
  • Columns
  • Beams
  • Cladding

Surface Treatment for 316L SS

The 316L stainless steel can be susceptible to discoloration and wear over time. That’s why surface treatments are required to ensure the material’s performance and extend its life.

Surface treatment is totally advantageous as it helps to improve the appearance of the steel surfaces. As well as preventing dirt or oils from sticking.

Let’s discover some of the surface treatment options for your stainless steel, grade 316L.

Mill Finishes

The mill finish adds extreme resistance to crevice corrosion and pitting. You also won’t worry about the risk of contamination from dirt and other particles when the material surface was mill finished.

When applied on 316L steel, the mill finish has a dull, non-reflective surface with a slightly grainy texture. It is typically grey in color but may have tinges of blue or purple. Compared to other finishes, it offers a more natural look.

Bright Annealed (2R)

Bright Annealed (2R) on 316L steel has outstanding formability, which makes it an ideal choice for structural and architectural applications.

After being applied, it will offer a mirror-like, highly reflective surface with a very smooth finish. This will give the surface totally free of any imperfections and defects. 2R finish is the ideal finish for applications that require low friction and high wear resistance.

2B, 2D

2B, also called 2D can provide a reflective and bright finish on the 316L steels. Having this type of finish will help the material resist oxidation.

After being applied, it results in a dull and matte finish with a uniform grain size for your 316L stainless steel.

Mirror Polished

If you choose mirror polish on 316L stainless steel, it will become well-suited in wet and humid environments. Additionally, it is very resistant to fingerprints and staining, therefore making it extremely easy to clean.

Mirror polished, on the other hand, will give a brilliant, mirror-like finish that is highly reflective. No wonder it is a widely chosen finish for 316L stainless steel.

Electropolish

The electropolishing yields a bright, mirror-like finish that is free from blemishes and imperfections. The steel surface is also highly reflective, giving it a polished, glossy look.

In addition, electropolishing helps to remove any residual chemicals or contaminants that may be present on the surface of the stainless steel. Then making it simpler to clean and maintain.

Patterned Finish

The patterned finish on 316L steel provides a unique decorative appearance that can enhance the look of any appliance or other item. This finish is also easy to maintain due to its non-porous surface.

If applied, it will give a random pattern of grooves and ridges to the material. The grooves and ridges can be either circular or linear, depending on the type of pattern chosen. The patterned finish can also be finished with a matte or glossy surface, giving it a unique and eye-catching look.

Coloring, Enamel Coating

The coloring and enamel coating on 316L stainless steel is highly resistant to temperatures, wear and tear, chemicals, and UV radiation. It is the most cost-effective option, making it best choice for those who want to reduce costs.

Well, this finish can be applied in a range of colors, from subtle hues to vibrant shades. Also, it can be applied in various textures, such as matte, satin, and high gloss.

Fabrication Data

Learning about the fabrication data can help you identify the best techniques to use when fabricating components.

Additionally, understanding this can help identify potential problems during the fabrication process, such as warping, cracking, or deformation.

Here are some ways to fabricate the material.

Hot Forming: In the hot forming process, the suggested working temperature must be 927°C to 1204°C (1700°F to 2200°F). The material must be annealed at a minimum working temperature of 1038°C (1900°F) and immediately cooled after the process for superior corrosion-resistant.

Cold Forming: The 316L stainless steel is ductile and formable. This process enables the material to increase its overall strength and hardness and might be moderately magnetic.

Machinability: Due to its toughness, grade 316L is slightly difficult to machine. However, excellent machining can be achieved with the best lubrication, heavier feeds, slower speed, sharp tooling, and powerful equipment.

Welding and Processing: There are different methods to weld 316L stainless steel. This includes TIG welding, solid wire MAG welding, (E) arc welding, submerged arc welding, and submerged arc welding.

Laser Beam Welding: Type 316L can be readily welded by all standard processes, with or without filler metals.

Which is Better? 316L VS 316

The 316 and 316L alloys are the same marine-grade steels, they differentiate in a few significant ways.

In 316L, carbon makes up a lesser fraction of the material. And the carbon value cannot be more than 0.03%. This only means it is a better option for welding.

However, the 316 has a molybdenum content of 2% to 3%, which increases its resistance to corrosive agents, acidic elements, and high temperatures. It works well when bent, stretched, and deeply pulled because of its excellent malleability.

As final thoughts, they both have excellent qualities for every application.

Differentiating 316L VS 304 Stainless Steel

It can be difficult to determine which is the better grade for a given application. While both grades are strong, there are some key differences that set them apart.

The most notable difference between 304 and 316 is their composition, which affects each corrosion property.

The molybdenum content in 316 increases its chemical resistance, particularly against chlorides and other industrial solvents. Additionally, when exposed to salt water, 316 is more resistant to chemicals than 304.

Another difference is each tensile strength. 304 has a slightly higher tensile strength than 316, which is why it is often used in construction. However, 316 is more resistant to corrosion and is recommended for marine and coastal applications.

Finally, in terms of cost differences, 304 is generally lower than 316. As result, 304 is a popular choice for many projects. However, if corrosion resistance is a priority, 316 is the superior option.

Benefits of Using 316L Stainless Steel

The main benefit of using grade 316L is its resistance to oxidation. This alloy contains a high percentage of chromium and nickel, which are effective in forming a passive film that prevents the steel from rusting. This film also helps to protect against pitting and crevice corrosion.

Another benefit of 316L SS is its high strength and durability. This alloy is well-suited for applications that require high strength, such as bridges, buildings, and other structural elements. It is also resistant to stress corrosion cracking, which is a common issue with other types of steel.

Weak Point

However, this alloy does have some weak points that you should be considered when selecting it for a particular use.

One of the weaknesses is its susceptibility to stress corrosion cracking (SCC). SCC can cause the material to fail without warning and can be difficult to detect in the early stages.

Another weak point is its susceptibility to pitting corrosion in certain environments. This corrosion occurs when the alloy is exposed to an environment containing chlorides or sulfuric acid. Pitting corrosion can lead to pinhole leaks, as well as a loss of material.

But you can do something to prevent this from occurring. Take note, 316L stainless steel must be kept clean and dry. The alloy should also be regularly inspected for signs of corrosion. Additionally, the alloy should be used in environments that are not overly acidic or corrosive.

Today’s Price

Pricing is an important factor to consider when planning any construction and engineering projects.

However, the price is based on two different aspects, thickness, and by finish.

By Thickness

Thickness (mm) Price (per kg)
0.5 $6.00
1.0 $6.50
1.5 $6.80
2.0 $7.00
3.0 $2.45
4.0 $2.40
5.0 $2.35
6.0 $2.30
8.0 $2.20
10.0 $2.10
12.0 $2.05
16.0 $1.90
20.0 $1.75
25.0 $1.60
30.0 $1.45
40.0 $1.20

By Finish

Finish Price
Cold rolled, 2B finish $2.00/lb
Hot rolled, No.1 finish $1.50/lb
Hot rolled, 2D finish $1.50/lb
Hot rolled, 2B finish $1.75/lb
Hot rolled, No.4 finish $2.00/lb
Hot rolled, #8 Mirror finish $4.00/lb

Conclusion

With its versatile properties, 316L stainless steel is definitely an excellent choice for any project.

We are hoping that the information you’ve read will help you in making decisions for your upcoming projects.

If you need further assistance with orders, please contact us immediately!

One Stop Stainless Steel Supply.

Whether you need stainless steel materials for your business or fabrication projects, TuoLian is your best supplier. You can find all types, grades, and thicknesses based on your needs. Guaranteed that we provide the best quality at a reasonable cost.
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