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    Table of Contents

    Grade 304 Stainless Steel or SS 304 is an alloy made of primarily chromium and nickel. It promises durability and is resistant to corrosion and other environmental elements. In India, it is used in a myriad of applications from kitchen appliances to heavy machinery. It’s also used commonly in making food processing equipment and containers. 304 grade Stainless Steel is the most popular type of austenitic stainless steel used. Let us dive into understanding the composition and properties of 304 SS, its industry applications, advantages, and price range in the Indian market.

    What is 304 grade stainless steel?

    Steel is made up of iron and carbon – the iron element making it prone to rust and corrosion. Stainless Steel is a special grade of alloy steel with chromium content that makes it corrosion resistant.

    Grade 304 stainless steel is a versatile alloy with 18% chromium and 8% nickel that enhances it corrosion resistance performance. This property makes it suitable for use across multiple applications including  steel utensils, kitchen appliances, architecture, automotive parts and other.

    Grade 304 stainless steel is also known as 18/8 stainless (due to is chromium/nickel component). It’s an austenitic stainless steel type, good at forming, welding and drawing properties. It’s also tough, can withstand high temperatures, and ideal for steel fabrication process.

    Is 304 stainless steel good quality?

    A legit question at this point is – Is 304 stainless steel of good quality.

    304 SS is a high-quality steel alloy. It’s chromium and nickel component makes it corrosion resistant making it suitable for use in humid environments. It does not contain any molybdenum (unlike Grade 316 stainless steel) which further enhances it corrosion resistant properties.

    It’s also tough, strong, and weldable making it suitable for use in domestic and industrial applications.

    Stainless steel 304 grade is good quality austenitic steel that comes with superior qualities, making it one of the most popular forms of stainless steel materials available in the market.

    Composition of Stainless Steel 304 grade

    Now that we understand what is SS 304, let’s take a look at its robust composition and what makes it a preferred alloy for extensive usage across a variety of industrial applications.

    As explained earlier, the main components of 304 SS are chromium (18%) and nickel (8%) which enhances it corrosion resistance properties. However, it also contains other elements in minor quantities that enhances and gives it special properties.

    Also read: Composition of Stainless Steel – What are the unique properties of this alloy steel

    SS 304 chemical composition/properties

    Here’s a breakdown of the chemical composition of Stainless Steel grade 304:

    Element Percentage Feature enhancement
    Chromium (Cr) 18% – 20% Corrosion resistance and durability
    Nickel (Ni) 8% to 10.5% Ductility and rust resistance (oxidation)
    Carbon (C) Up to 0.08% Strength and hardness
    Manganese (Mn) Up to 2% Structural integrity maintenance
    Silicon (Si) Up to 1% Strength and resistance to heat (high-temperature)
    Phosphorous (P) Up to 0.045% Machineability and hardness
    Sulphur (S) Up to 0.03% Machineability
    Nitrogen (N) Up to 0.1% Corrosion resistance and strength

    *This is for general information. There can be minor changes in the composition based on requirements and grades. Check with your steel supplier for accurate compositions.

    Does 304 stainless steel rust?

    Does stainless steel rust? This is a common question, especially with reference to grade 304 stainless steel.

    In general, stainless steel in resistant to corrosion and rust. Grade 304 stainless steel, with its high percentage of chromium (18%) and nickel (8%), and lack of molybdenum is highly resistant to corrosion. However, it is not immune to rust entirely.

    Based on the environment and usage (e.g., exposure to high heat, specific chemicals, and saline water), grade 304 SS can oxidise and form a layer of rust in time.

    • Grade 304L Stainless Steel: Has lower carbon content and hence less susceptible to rust/oxidation
    • Grade 304H: Has higher carbon content and hence more susceptible to rusting

    Also read: Carbon content in steel – Understand how carbon percentage affects steel properties

    Properties of 304 grade Stainless Steel

    In this section, let’s take a look at the mechanical (physical) and chemical properties of 304 stainless steel.

    SS 304 chemical properties

    The chemical composition and properties of SS 304, directly impacts its mechanical and physical properties. It gives it its adaptable properties making it suitable for use in several environments.

    Element Percentage Feature enhancement
    Chromium (Cr) 18% – 20% Corrosion resistance, durability and resistance to oxidation
    Nickel (Ni) 8% to 10.5% Ductility and resistance to rust (oxidation) and corrosion
    Carbon (C) Up to 0.08% Strength and hardness while retaining weldability

    SS 304 mechanical and physical properties

    As a popular steel type, there are several mechanical properties of steel that SS 304 shares. Here’s a list of some of the prominent mechanical and physical properties of SS.

    Property Measurement Feature enhancement
    Tensile strength 505 MPa – 620 MPa Increases formability of SS
    Yield strength ~ 215 MPa Ensures durability under stress
    Elongation 50% – 60% Facilitates fabrication
    Hardness Up to 210 HB Builds a solid and durable surface
    Density ~ 8.03 g/cm³ Comparatively heavy (hence solid)
    Melting point 1400°C to 1450°C Enables SS 304 t withstand high temperature
    Thermal expansion ~ 17.2 µm/m°C Ensures minimal expansion under heat
    Thermal conductivity ~ 16.2 W/mK at 100°C Makes it an efficient conductor of heat

     

    What are the different grades of SS 304?

    SS 304 is available in mainly two different grades – 304L and 304H grade stainless steel. Based on their composition and properties, they can be used across different environments and industries.

    304L Stainless Steel:

    • ‘L’ denotes low-carbon content percentage
    • Similar mechanical properties as standard 304 SS but with higher corrosion resistance especially during welding
    • Popularly used in food and beverage industry due to its high resistance to corrosion

    304H Stainless Steel:

    • ‘H’ denotes heat-resistance or thermal tolerance making SS 304H suitable for use in high temperature environments
    • Maintains the integrity of stainless steel even in high-temperature industrial environments
    • Suitable for use in manufacturing boilers, heat exchangers, piping systems

    Which is better 304 or 316 stainless steel?

    The two most popular types of Stainless Steel are – Grade 304 and Grade 316 stainless steel.

    Each come with some unique and similar features. Let’s take a look at the main differences between 304 and 316 grade SS and which is better based on its usage and properties.

    Difference between SS 304 and SS 316

    SS 304 grade SS 316 grade
    Does not contain molybdenum Contains 2% – 3% molybdenum enhancing corrosion resistance
    Less suitable in coastal, marine and saline prone environments Suitable for use in marine and acidic environment (outperforms 304)
    Less durable than 316 but highly machinable Stronger than grade 304 making it more durable
    Suitable for general applications (e.g., kitchen ware, automobiles, etc.) Suitable for applications prone to high corrosion
    Higher melting point hence more resistant to heat Lower melting point and resistance to heat
    SS 304 price is lesser than 316, making it suitable for applications for everyday use More expensive and suitable for industrial applications with long-term requirements

    This brings us to the question – Which is better? Grade 304 or Grade 316 stainless steel?

    As you can see, based on the properties, the difference between Grade 304 and 316 SS makes it suitable for usage across different industries and environments.

    • When durability and resistance to corrosion in everyday applications are required, Grade 304 is the preferred option
    • When the environment is exposed to salt water and chloride, Grade 316 is better suited for longevity and robustness

    Grade 304 is more economical, but when it comes to harsh environments, using Grade 316 is recommended. It will be cost-effective considering the initial investments will be justified by the longevity, especially in pharmaceutical, marine and food processing sectors.

    Industrial applications of 304 stainless steel

    Grade 304 stainless steel is a versatile metal and used across different industries. Here’s a closer look at how it is used across different sectors.

    • Food processing and beverage: Grade 304 is extensively used in the industry. It’s resistant to corrosion and rust, prevents contamination and reaction with acids, and overall hygiene. Used popularly in kitchen ware, cookware, and brewing tanks also due to its high aesthetic qualities.
    • Medical sector: It is used commonly to make medical/surgical devices and instruments such as sterilisers and pharmaceutical equipment. It can be cleaned easily for hygiene and safety.
    • Automotive: SS 304 grade is strong, malleable and can withstand high temperatures. It is commonly used in the automotive sector for making exhaust systems and other auto components. It also reacts less with other chemicals and can resist exposure to salts and other pollutants ensuring that the vehicle’s performance is not compromised.
    • Construction: Stainless steel roofing sheets are commonly used in the construction sector. It is also used for making façade cladding, handrails, and support beams. Its ability to weld, resist corrosion, and strength makes it a preferred material for construction work, especially for buildings in coastal areas. (Also read: Wall cladding sheets for façade and insulation)
    • Water treatment facilities: Grade 304 SS is often used in water treatment plants. Stainless steel pipes and tanks can resist acidic reactions and the harsh conditions of water treatment processes. This ensures durability and longevity.

    What is SS 304 price?

    So how much does 304 grade stainless steel cost? What is the rate of SS 304 in kgs? What is the price of stainless steel 304?

    Before you buy 304 stainless steel from a steel supplier near you, understand that its price will vary by – manufacturer, quality, location, quantity, type (e.g., SS pipes, SS sheets, SS coils), thickness,  packaging and transportation charges, and taxes. Ensure that you check these factors before you buy stainless steel 304.

    On an average, SS 304 price in India ranges between – ₹180 – ₹280 per kg

    Type of SS 304 Price per kg* Price per tonne*
    Standard SS 304 price ₹180 – ₹240 per kg ₹180,000 – ₹240,000 per tonne
    SS 304 coils price ₹220 – ₹260 per kg ₹220,000 – ₹260,000 per tonne
    SS 304 sheets price ₹250 – ₹280 per kg ₹250,000 – ₹280,000 per tonne
    SS 304 pipes price ₹180 – ₹300 per kg ₹180,000 – ₹300,000 per tonne

    *These are basic rates for reference only. Please check with your steel supplier for latest rates. Price does not include freight, packaging, taxes, and will vary by manufacturer, location, type.

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    Sohini Banerjee

    Sohini is a seasoned content writer with 12 years’ experience in developing marketing and business content across multiple formats. At Tata nexarc, she leverages her skills in crafting curated content on the Indian MSME sector, steel procurement, and logistics. In her personal time, she enjoys reading fiction and being up-to-date on trends in digital marketing and the Indian business ecosystem.