The 300 series of stainless steel alloys are part of the austenitic family. Austenitic stainless steels are chromium-nickel alloys which are hardened by cold working. Nickel is the main element varied within the alloys of this class while carbon is at low levels. The nickel content may be modified from about 4% to 22% – higher values of nickel are added to increase the flexibility of the metal. When chromium is increased to raise the corrosion resistance of the metal, nickel must also be expanded to maintain the austenitic structure.
These alloys are slightly magnetic in the cold-worked condition but are essentially non-magnetic in the annealed condition. The austenitic types feature adaptability to cold forming, ease of welding, high-temperature service, and, in general, the highest corrosion resistance. Below, we list the most common alloys in the 300 series and commonly used applications:
- 302 Stainless Steel: Applications include cables, washers, stamping, spinning and wire forming. The culinary, sanitary, and cryogenic industries utilize 302 stainless steel.
- 304 Stainless Steel: 304 stainless steel is less heat sensitive than other stainless steels and is a common material used in producing cookware, appliances, sinks, and tabletops.
- 316 Stainless Steel: 316 contains molybdenum for better corrosion resistance to prevent pitting. It is excellent for industries involving chemicals, culinary, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, and mining.