After a hundred years, why is 304 still the absolute mainstay of the global stainless steel market?

Whether you call it 304, 1.4301, 06Cr19Ni10 (old standard 0Cr18Ni9) or most people in the 18/8 business will know what you mean. After more than 100 years of development, as the earliest developed stainless steel brand 304, until today it is still the most used in the stainless steel industry. So why is 304 still the dominant force in the global stainless steel market after a hundred years?

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The most commonly used stainless steel grade 304, the industry is also called 18/8 stainless steel

Looking at a set of data, in 2017, the output of stainless steel crude steel in China is 25.77 million tons, of which 300 is 13.42 million tons (including 304,321,316L, etc.), an increase of 1.04 million tons, an increase of 8.43%. With 52% of all shares, 304 is one of the most popular brands, and it continues to dominate today’s stainless steel market.

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After a hundred years of development of stainless steel brands

Obviously not because the 304 is the first to develop a stainless steel brand. The stainless steel industry after years of development, has made great progress, now we have a wide variety of austenitic grades, 304 is just one grade; and martensitic steel, ferritic steel and AUSTENITIC FERRITIC (duplex stainless steel) and precipitation hardening stainless steel. Each of them has a specific performance and is developed for a particular application, or attempts to avoid the use of expensive alloy elements.

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Add Mo element to improve corrosion resistance and high temperature strength grade 316

For example, you can get higher strength (thereby reducing weight) and even higher corrosion resistance by selecting a duplex stainless steel brand. You can choose CrNiMo grade (for example, 316L) to get higher corrosion resistance if necessary. For example, in marine environment or specific chemical process, special acid and corrosion resistant types are needed.

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Duplex stainless steel with the characteristics of austenite and ferrite

Of course, you can also choose ferrite grade or 200 series (CrMn) level to reduce the cost of alloy elements, so as to get cheaper products, or even decide not to use stainless steel, and use galvanized steel and so on. However, when you use this method, you will soon find that if it is not regularly, antiseptic treatment, such as paint, will soon become rusty or even need to be replaced. At first glance, it seems to be a cheap choice, but the result may be very expensive and even very dangerous.

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The 200 series was first developed in the United States as a 300 series of substitutes during World War II.

All these “update” grades are in line with their purpose and help make stainless steel a major choice. Within a wide range of stainless steel grades, it is expected that 304 will probably be replaced soon. Why should we choose a brand developed over 100 years ago? There are so many options today, they are all tailored to perform well under specific conditions. It can be said that every kind of stainless steel brand is developed for a particular application.

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After a hundred years of development of stainless steel brands

304, relatively speaking, is not popular, because it is just a “cheap” option. As we all know, it contains quite a lot of very expensive materials – nickel, especially when nickel prices start to rise. If it is not a historical reason, it is not because it contains expensive alloy elements; then, why is 304 still the main force of today’s stainless steel industry?

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The most commonly used stainless steel grade 304, the industry is also called 18/8 stainless steel

The answer may be that 304 contains a considerable amount of chromium (about 18%), which makes it corrosion-resistant. So why do you want to increase the cost of expensive nickel? Because nickel stabilizes the austenite structure and improves the corrosion resistance and toughness of the stainless steel. How much nickel should be added? It is clear that the minimum limit required to stabilize the austenite structure is 8%. This is the origin of 18/8 (18% Cr, 8% Ni) or level 304. With the wide application range of 304, it has high corrosion resistance, good formability and good solderability, and does not contain much cost and expensive nickel.

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Titanium has better corrosion resistance to grain boundary and 321 grades of high temperature strength

It is the combination of these attributes that explains why 304 is still one of the most widely used levels. The special combination of these characteristics means that at reasonable cost, it can be applied to all kinds of applications, including industry (chemical, pharmaceutical, food, beverage, brewing, fermentation), building, counters, etc., until your kitchen and tableware.

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The British Stainless Steel Association edited and published a hundred years of stainless steel

304 of the applicability has been proven in years of use, but if it is “the safest” or “304 better”, it is wrong. That’s why you should communicate with professionals frequently. They will advise you to adopt the most reasonable cost, choose to meet or meet your needs, and help you avoid costly mistakes.

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Various types of 304 stainless steel pipes products in the warehouse

304 since the advent of 100 years ago, until now, and in the foreseeable future, it will still continue to dominate the global market in the smelting factory, stainless steel; hot rolling cold rolling mill, steel pipe factory, there is always a lot of 304 stainless steel products in the world waiting for the user in the hands of the warehouse.

Source: China 304 Pipes Manufacturer – Yaang Pipe Industry Co., Limited (www.metallicsteel.com)

(Yaang Pipe Industry is a leading manufacturer and supplier of nickel alloy and stainless steel products, including Super Duplex Stainless Steel Flanges, Stainless Steel Flanges, Stainless Steel Pipe Fittings, Stainless Steel Pipe. Yaang products are widely used in Shipbuilding, Nuclear power, Marine engineering, Petroleum, Chemical, Mining, Sewage treatment, Natural gas and Pressure vessels and other industries.)

If you want to have more information about the article or you want to share your opinion with us, contact us at sales@metallicsteel.com

Please notice that you might be interested in the other technical articles we’ve published:

  • WHERE TO BUY HIGH QUALITY STEEL PIPES

  • WHERE TO BUY HIGH QUALITY FLANGES

  • WHERE TO BUY HIGH QUALITY PIPE FITTINGS

  • ADVANTAGES OF DUPLEX STAINLESS STEEL PIPE AND SELECTION

  • WHERE TO BUY HIGH QUALITY BELLOW EXPANSION JOINTS

  • Difference Between Pipe Elbow And Pipe Bend

  • Where to get high quality alloy steel pipes

  • Distinguish Inferior Steel Pipes

  • WHERE TO GET HIGH QUALITY HEAT EXCHANGER TUBES

  • The Heat Treatment Process of Steel Pipes

  • WHERE TO GET HIGH QUALITY STUB ENDS

  • WHERE TO GET HIGH QUALITY CARBON STEEL PIPES

References:

  • https://www.steeljrv.com/history-of-stainless-steel.html
  • https://www.yaang.com/Stainless-Steel-304-Alloy-304.html
  • https://www.yaang.com/uns-s32100-321-stainless-steel.html

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