430 vs 304 Stainless Steel: Comparing Between The Two Stainless Steel Variants

Known for its diversity and variation, stainless steel comes in so many forms that it can be challenging for you to keep track of them all. And, this generally means that you’re always spoilt for choice when trying to make a choice. 

And, like everything else, manufacturers always have their favorites when it comes to stainless steel options. Both 304 stainless steel and 430 stainless steel have done quite well on the adoption front, providing different applications for manufacturers in the past. With their popularity and adoption, both of them easily come up in conversations.

So, it might be challenging for you to determine which is which by merely looking at them. And, considering that the use of 430 or 304 stainless steel is quite popular in today’s industrial applications, you’re probably surrounded by one or both of these variants without even knowing it. 

It’s understandable that you might feel some confusion when deciding which one to go for. But, this post will give you all the answers, so you can make a more informed decision: 

Stainless Steel: The Need For Classifying

When you work in the industrial space, one of the most important points you always have to note is working with the right tools. This ensures that you’re able to get the job done right and up to code. 

With stainless steel’s diversity, finding the right variant for a task can be daunting. This is why experts grouped the material into grades. Essentially, each grade functions like a family – metals belonging to a grade share similar characteristics and features, making it easy for anyone who wants to use the material to differentiate between variants. 

With over 100 grades, categorizing stainless steel types is the best way to draw lines between each one. 

Yet, the fact that grading aids in accurately differentiating various stainless steel types persist. In the long run, this makes for better, more accurate applications. 

The American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI) has set the proper grade standards for stainless steel. The institute classifies steel variants based on their characteristics and common traits, and you can find out more about its classification method. 

Is 430 Grade Stainless Steel Good For Me?

 

stainless steel

430 stainless steel is a part of the ferritic steel group – meaning that it has a unique molecular structure. Interestingly, the “4” in front of its nomenclature depicts that it has a high concentration of chromium in its makeup. 

With 430 stainless steel, you get a magnetic steel variant with a density of about 7.8 g/cm3. By percentage, the ideal composition of 430 stainless steel is: 

  • Chromium: Between 16% and 18%
  • Phosphorus: Generally lower than 0.04%
  • Silicon: No more than 1%
  • Sulfur: Less than 0.03%
  • Manganese: Less than 1%
  • Nickel: A maximum of 1%

Considered non-hardenable, low-carbon steel, 430 stainless steel can easily be straightened or bent with the application of heat. Manufacturers also love it because they can weld the material – although you shouldn’t use it in load-bearing tasks. 

All in all, this steel variant isn’t especially known for its strength. Nevertheless, it does have its advantages – which we will get into below. 

430 Stainless Steel: Mechanical Properties

Below, you can find some of the most prominent 430 stainless steel properties on the mechanical side: 

Mechanical Property  Grade Interpretation
Elongation at Break 25% 25%
Hardness (Rockwell B) 85 85
Ultimate Tensile Strength  517 MPa 75,000 ksi
Modulus of Elasticity  200 GPa 29,000 ksi
Tensile Yield Strength  345 MPa 50,000 ksi

430 stainless steel can easily be worked and deformed – a property that we see thanks to its yield and ultimate strengths. It’s not so strong, but it does quite well when compressed.

Some might see this as a disadvantage, but when you consider that the lower strength means easier plastic deforming, it doesn’t all sound so bad. 

430 stainless steel is also quite seamless to integrate into the manufacturing process. This is due significantly to its elasticity modulus – a metric that describes the deformation of a material in response to external forces. Finally, its high elastic modulus means that 430 stainless steel easily goes through the milling process without stress. 

Applications

This stainless steel variant is known for its versatility. It isn’t the best in any of these areas, but it excels in general-purpose applications due to its ability to combine corrosion resistance with physical flexibility. 

Generally, you can find 430 stainless steel applications such as: 

  • Making kitchen utensils
  • Lining dishwashers 
  • Building heat-resistant materials  
  • Mining equipment 
  • Wall cladding and home construction
  • Roof manufacturing 

And many more. 

304 Stainless Steel: An Introduction 

304 stainless steel sheets

304 stainless steel isn’t magnetic – although it comes with some of the highest levels of corrosion resistance in the market at the moment. Besides that, manufacturers love it because of its weldability and ability to easily form into shape.

304 stainless steel comes with multiple materials mixed together, all giving it a distinct look and feel. The general content of 304 stainless steel can vary depending on the manufacturer’s requirements. However, you’d mostly find it contains the following: 

  • Chromium: Between 17.5% and 19.5%
  • Nickel: Between 8% and 10.5%
  • Carbon: 0.07%
  • Manganese No more than 2%
  • Phosphorus: No more than 0.05%

And more.

The material can also go through a welding process, and it comes with high maximum yield strength, as well as a lot of tensile strength. 

A further breakdown of this steel variant will reveal three other categories – 304, 304L, and 304H. 

304L steel comes with the lowest carbon content, clocking in at about 0.03%. The 304 steel provides a balance, keeping carbon content at about 0.08%. However, the 304H variant comes with about 0.04-0.1% of the compound.

Mechanical Properties of 304 Stainless Steel

Property Metric  Interpretation
Elasticity Modulus  193 GPs to 200 GPa 28,000 ksi to 29,000 ksi
Tensile Yield Strength  215 MPa 31,200 psi
Charpy Impact 325 J 240 ft-lb
Ultimate Tensile Strength  505 MPa 73,200 psi
Hardness 70 70

In terms of these parameters, you want to especially consider the 304 stainless steel tensile strength. The metric describes a material’s ability to resist external pulling forces, and while 304 stainless steel doesn’t have the highest strength rating of all metals, manufacturers can work around that with alloying and also enjoy the material’s flexibility.

Next, the Rockwell B hardness test helps to determine material durability and brittleness. A material with a higher score is seen as more brittle, while those with lower scores will be prone to deformation under stress. 304 stainless steel comes with a rating of 70 in this regard, which means that it is one of the hardest steel variants available. This makes it impressive general-purpose steel through and through. 

We pointed out earlier that this stainless steel type has different classes based on carbon content. Depending on the one you choose, you can find different elastic moduli. However, each of the options usually ranges between 193 GPa and 200 GPa. This metric helps to determine a material’s ability to return to its original shape after being exposed to significant stress, and 304 stainless steel’s high score on the metric means that it won’t easily lose shape due to external stress. Nevertheless, metals with lower elastic moduli tend to be easier to machine. For this reason, many manufacturers tend to fabricate 304 stainless steel in the manufacturing process to reduce its elastic modulus – and,  by extension, optimize its machinability. 

Applications 

Food manufacturers especially love its unreactive nature with organic food processing acids. However, other applications of this steel variant include: 

  • Making pans and cooking utensils
  • Making different tubing types 
  • Making kitchen equipment
  • Making food processing equipment 
  • Designing hypodermic needles

And many more. This metal is one of the most flexible and diverse in the market, making it a huge draw for industrial applications across the board. 

What Are The Differences Between 304 And 430 Stainless Steel? 

As we said earlier, 304 stainless comes with significantly higher nickel content. The austenitic steel variant is weldable and formable, with impressive temperature resistance. This is a far cry from 430 stainless steel, which is less weldable and can’t hold its own at cryogenic temperatures. 

This isn’t to say that 304 stainless steel isn’t functional – its strength allows it to easily bend and be flexible, and you can count on it to hold its own in the midst of extreme temperature changes.

Nevertheless, the increased nickel content also means that 304 stainless steel will command a higher price tag than its competitor. While the relative cost of the steels will vary based on the specifications and market conditions, you should find that 430 stainless steel costs between 50% and 70% of the price of 304 stainless steel.

Below is a table that shows some of the major differences between both steel variants: 

Parameter 430 Stainless Steel  304 Stainless Steel 
Magnetism Yes No 
Ductility  Medium  High
Temperature Resistance  High High
Corrosion Resistance  Excellent  Excellent – especially compared to 430 stainless steel
Weldability  Medium  High
Machinable  Very machinable Fairly machinable 
Maximum service temperature  850°C 850°C

How Do The Stainless Steel Variants Compare?

differentiating between 430 and 304 stainless steel

If you’re not sure which option to choose, here are a few characteristics you might want to keep in mind:  

What class of stainless steel are these two?

With the many types of steel available, experts have devised a classification order for the different types. These are ferritic, martensitic, and austenitic. 

The martensitic is known to last the longest of the bunch, although it doesn’t do so well when it comes to holding off rust and corrosion. Austenitic, a category that includes 304 steel, is more popular and can be incredibly strong.

Magnetic by nature, ferritic stainless steel – like 430 stainless steel – is also quite common. And, while it’s not so strong, you can harden it via some cold work. 

304 vs 430 Stainless Steel Food Grade Comparison

Another significant benefit of 304 stainless steel’s nickel content is the fact that the material easily works in situations where you need to manufacture food items. 304 stainless steel doesn’t react with any of the materials in the food manufacturing process. This means that it is easily compatible with food processing and manufacturing. 

On the flip side, 430 stainless steel doesn’t have this quality.  Nevertheless, with both materials being rustproof and resistant to corrosion, you don’t have to worry about the 304 vs 430 stainless steel BBQ comparisons. 

Manufacturing: What’s the application like?

If you work in the food processing or manufacturing industry, then you’d want to see the scorecard for the 304 vs 430 stainless steel food grade comparison. 

Food manufacturers love 304 steel for its compatibility and easy application with some of the major components used in food manufacturing.

How do these variants handle rust?

Both steel variants resist rust. However, while everyone generally wants to work with strong steel,  you’d most likely go for 304 if you truly especially prioritize that,

Which of the steel variants is the hardest?

When making steel, manufacturers take it through multiple rounds of extensive tests to ensure that it meets the Brinell Hardness Number (BHN) standard for hardness. And, each variant tends to have its own range. Nevertheless, the law remains pretty simple – a steel variant with a higher BHN is considered to be stronger.

While 430 stainless steel has a BHN of 183, 304 stainless steel clocks in at 201. So, in terms of strength, the latter wins slightly.

Can you use any of the steel variants with magnets?

The austenitic class of stainless steel – of which 304 stainless steel is a member – isn’t magnetic. However, ferritic stainless steel variants like 430 stainless steel are magnetic. 

This is why a lot of manufacturers use 430 stainless steel to make items like knives and other kitchen utensils that can be stored in strips. 

Which Is Better? 304 or 430 Stainless Steel?

When considering the option that works best for you, it is always a great idea to consider the 430 vs 304 stainless steel properties. However, here are a few other major points you might want to keep in mind: 

The Benefits Of 430 Stainless Steel vs. 304

430 stainless steel better than 304 stainless steel

  • Cost: Considering that a lot of manufacturers and users consider cost above anything else when making decisions, this is one point where 430 stainless steel wins. It is comparatively cheaper than its rival, and you can easily get it around you as well. 
  • Magnetic Attraction: 430 stainless steel easily attracts metallic surfaces. This is a far cry from 304 stainless steel, which doesn’t. This means that for applications where you need this property, you have a clear winner.
  • Appearance: Aesthetic appeal is one of the major reasons why anyone chooses to work with steel. And, it’s safe to say that you want something that looks and feels better – and which will be able to stand the test of time. In this aspect, we’ll give the slight edge to 430 stainless steel because it contains nickel. 430 looks sharper and cleaner, and you’ll enjoy working with it if you truly prioritize beauty. 

Advantages: 304 Stainless Steel vs. 430 

  • Corrosion resistance: This isn’t to say that 430 stainless steel doesn’t withstand corrosion. But, 304 stainless steel does this better.
  • Popularity: You can easily find 304 stainless steel around, although you should also be aware that it is also more expensive than 430 stainless steel. 
  • Hardness: As we pointed out earlier, 304 is comparatively harder than 430 stainless steel. In terms of strength, this is another part of the 304 vs 430 stainless steel properties where the former ekes out a win.
  • Weldability: For industrial applications, weldability is surely a key consideration. You can easily shape 304 stainless steel into different forms, and this flexibility makes it ideal for multiple applications.
  • Food grade: Since it doesn’t react to most of the acids used in food processing, 304 stainless steel is also ideal in this regard. That fact makes it so popular among food processors is one of the reasons why it is especially popular.

Conclusion

Making the right choice between these two variants can easily save you a great deal of time and money. 

Need any further advice? Or, are you ready to make a purchase? Contact us today!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is 430 stainless steel food grade?

Food manufacturers make use of steel in different capacities. However, given the importance of their work, they don’t just use any form of steel to work. 

Sadly, the 430 stainless steel properties mean that it doesn’t fall into this category. This is because the steel variant doesn’t contain a sufficient nickel composition, so it won’t be ideal in food manufacturing processes. 

On the flip side, 304 stainless steel exhibits this property. With a high nickel content, the steel variant easily works for food processing without reacting with any of the acids or other chemicals that are used in the food manufacturing process. 

Is 430 stainless steel magnetic? 

430 stainless steel is a class of ferritic stainless steel. It is naturally magnetic and capable of easily attaching itself to metals. This magnetic nature makes it great for manufacturing items like knives and other basic kitchen utensils. 

This isn’t to say that magnetism isn’t part of the 340 stainless steel properties. However, for 340 stainless steel to be magnetic, it would most likely have to go through some cold working. 

Is 430 stainless steel rust-proof? 

Yes, it is. 430 steel carries on the tradition of steel variants withstanding exposure to the elements. 

The material easily stands the test of time, providing an uncanny ability to hold its own against rust and corrosion. 

Which is costlier? 430 stainless steel or 340 stainless steel? 

Costs for stainless steel materials tend to be in a constant state of flux. This is primarily because the constituent materials themselves see price variations. Alloy costs easily change across the board, and this can have a significant implication on the total value of these materials. 

Nevertheless, 304 stainless steel is generally more expensive than 430 stainless steel. Since it contains a higher content of nickel and other expensive alloys, it tends to come at a higher cost profile as well. 

Is 430 stainless steel good for outdoors?

430 stainless steel is ideal for outdoor use thanks to its strength and resistance to the elements. This means that you can use it outside without fear of the effects of rain or some other external factor. 

Note, however, that 304 stainless steel performs better in this regard. With prolonged and constant exposure, 403 steel will start to develop some signs of corrosion. Nevertheless, it is quite effective for outdoor use. 

What is the difference in range hood?

In the 430 vs 304 stainless steel range hood debate, 304 stainless steel takes advantage. This is once again due to its high nickel content, which allows it to resist any form of corrosion. Considering that the hood will be exposed significantly to the elements, a coating of 304 stainless steel will go a long way in helping it to last much longer.

Which is better? 430 or 304 stainless steel? 

In type 430 vs 304 stainless steel debate, there isn’t necessarily a clear winner. At the end of the day, we would recommend that you choose a variant that works for you and that you can easily use. 

304 stainless steel comes with a significantly higher hardness profile than its counterpart. This means that it works better in situations where you would require optimal durability. And with the variant also being food grade, food manufacturers especially love it as well. 

Nevertheless, this isn’t to say that 430 stainless steel isn’t beneficial. It’s magnetic profile and visual appeal make it a great choice for specific manufacturing projects as well. And, when you consider that the material is also less expensive than 304  stainless steel, you find that it can also be great for budget-conscious users. 

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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