316 Vs. 316L Stainless Steel: What’s The Difference?

316 vs. 316L Stainless Steel. It might sound like a debate over which college football team is better, but it's one of the most important decisions you'll make as a manufacturer. So, how do you decide which type of stainless steel to use for your product?
316 VS. 316L stainless steel

316 vs. 316L stainless steel, what’s the difference? We will discuss the differences between two popular types of stainless steel in the post.

Even though both of these alloys are made from stainless steel, they are often used for different applications, and they have some key differences that set them apart.

We will be exploring each alloy’s composition, properties, and uses, so you can better understand which one to choose for your specific needs. Whether you are an engineer, a manufacturer, or simply someone curious about metallurgy, this blog will provide the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision.

What Is 316 Stainless Steel?

316 stainless steel is a high-quality and versatile metal widely used in various industries. With a composition of 16-18% chromium and 10-14% nickel, the material is resistant to corrosion and stains, making it perfect for harsh environments. 

It also contains molybdenum, which offers greater corrosion resistance in more aggressive marine, chemical, and pharmaceutical environments. 

The material is also highly durable, with a high tensile strength, allowing it to withstand extreme temperatures and pressures.

Overall, 316 stainless steel is an excellent option for applications that require chemical resistance, durability, and a hygienic surface.

316 stainless steel rod

What Is 316L Stainless Steel?

316L stainless steel is a low-carbon version of the popular 316 stainless steel alloy. It contains between 16-18% chromium, 10-14% nickel, and 2-3% molybdenum, giving it excellent corrosion resistance and staining.

The lower carbon content in 316L makes it ideal for sheet metal fabrication and welding applications, as it minimizes carbide precipitation and reduces the risk of sensitization. 

Additionally, 316L stainless steel offers good resistance to high-temperature environments and has high tensile strength. Therefore, it is suitable for demanding applications such as chemical processing, medical devices, and pharmaceutical equipment. 

Overall, 316L stainless steel is an excellent material for applications requiring superior corrosion resistance, high strength, and good welding properties.

316l stainless steel

Difference Between 316 and 316L Stainless Steel

316 vs. 316L Stainless Steel : Property

Chemical composition

The main difference between 316 and 316L stainless steel is the level of carbon content in each. 316 has a 0.08% max carbon content, while 316L has a 0.03% max carbon content.

This slight difference in carbon levels changes how these steels behave during welding, cutting, grinding, and other machining processes.

You can check the below chart for reference.

ElementSS 316SS 316L
Carbon0.08 max0.03 max
Manganese2.00 max2.00 max
Phosphorus0.045 max0.045 max
Sulfur0.03 max0.03 max
Silicon0.75 max0.75 max
Chromium16.00-18.0016.00-18.00
Nickel10.00-14.0010.00-14.00
Molybdenum2.00-3.002.00-3.00
Nitrogen0.10 max0.10 max
Ironbalancebalance

Mechanical property

The main difference between 316 and 316L stainless steel is the weldability, formability, and toughness.

316L has a lower carbon content than 316, making it easier to weld with no risk of carbide precipitation. This makes it ideal for use when sensitization and intergranular corrosion are concerns.

However, grade 316 stainless steel can be annealed to resist weld decay. Formability and toughness are similar, but 316L is slightly tougher than 316.

Corrosion Resistance comparison

316L steel has a lower carbon content than 316 steel.

This difference gives 316L steel better corrosion resistance in certain aggressive environments, such as marine and saltwater. 

However, because of its lower carbon content, 316L steel is also more likely to suffer from pitting and crevice corrosion.

Temperature Resistance

There are two main differences between 316 and 316L stainless steel in temperature resistance:

1.    The maximum operating temperature of 316 stainless steel is 1400°F (760°C), while the maximum operating temperature of 316L stainless steel is 1700°F (925°C).

2.    The melting point of 316 stainless steel is lower than that of 316L stainless steel (2550°F vs. 2600°F), so it is easier to weld316 stainless steel.

Durability

There are actually quite a few differences between 316 and 316L stainless steel in terms of durability.

For one, 316L is more resistant to pitting and corrosion than 316. This is because 316L has low carbon content, while 316 has higher carbon content. This means that 316 is more likely to suffer from pitting and corrosion over time.

316L is also more resistant to stress cracking than 316. This is because 316L has higher levels of molybdenum and chromium, which make it more resistant to stress cracking.

Finally, 316L is generally tougher and more durable than 316. This is because it has a higher chromium level, making it more resistant to wear and tear.

In terms of overall durability, then, 316L is usually the better choice. It is more resistant to pitting, corrosion, and stress cracking and is generally tougher and more durable. If you need stainless steel to withstand tough conditions, 316L is probably the way to go.

Weldability and Formability

What are the differences between 316 and 316L stainless steel regarding weldability and formability?

In terms of weldability, both 316 and 316 SS are good choices. Both sheets of steel can be welded using most standard welding methods.

However, 316 SS is more ductile than 316 stainless steel in formability. This means that it can be formed into shapes with tighter corners. 

Price & cost

316L is a low-carbon variation of 316. This means it has less carbon in its composition, making it slightly more corrosion-resistant than regular 316.

The lower carbon content also means that the price of 316L stainless steel is slightly higher than that of regular 316.

Related Post:

Cast Iron Vs. Steel: The Comparison

Applications of 316 and 316L stainless steel

What are the applications of 316 stainless steel?

316 stainless steel is often used in food processing, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries where it is required to minimize metallic contamination of the product. It is also used in marine environments because of its resistance to pitting from salt water. Some other applications include:

  • Petrochemical
  • Power generation
  • Pulp and paper
  • Textiles
  • Waste management
  • Architecture and construction
  • Chemical processing
  • Food and beverage processing
  • Marine applications
  • Oil and gas industry
  • Pharmaceuticals
stainless steel flange

What are the applications of 316L stainless steel?

316L is the superior choice for high-corrosion and high-temperature applications. 316L is often used in marine applications, paper machinery, and pharmaceutical processing equipment. These applications often require stainless steel that can resist corrosion from seawater or chemicals. 316L is also used in the food and beverage industry for handling beer, wine, and milk.

Some common applications for 316L stainless steel include:

  • Surgical instruments
  • Watches and Jewelry
  • Chemical processing equipment
  • Textile machinery
  • Pharmaceutical processing equipment
  • Food and beverage industry for handling beer, wine, and milk.

If you consider anything above, you may have a general idea of choosing which one for your business. And if you still find something confusing, feel free to contact us. Since we have years of experienced experts, we will be confident to offer the most suitable plan for your business.

stainless steel bolts

316 vs. 316L Stainless Steel: How to Select the Right One

Choosing the right type for your needs is important when considering stainless steel options. 316 and 316L stainless steel are two popular choices, and here are a few factors to consider when deciding which one is right for you:

Corrosion Resistance: Both types are highly resistant to corrosion, but 316L offers slightly better resistance due to its lower carbon content.

Weldability: 316L is often chosen for welding applications because of its improved weldability over 316.

Toughness: 316 is tougher than 316L, but not significantly.

Cost: 316L typically comes at a higher cost due to its increased manufacturing complexity and lower carbon content.

Ultimately, the decision between 316 and 316L stainless steel depends on your specific needs and the application you’ll be using the steel. Consult with a materials expert to determine which choice is best for you.

Get CNC Machined Stainless Steel Parts From Machiningtoday

Machiningtoday is a reputable company that produces high-quality CNC machined stainless steel parts for various industries.

We have advanced CNC machines to create precision metal parts that meet clients’ specifications with the highest levels of accuracy and consistency. We provide various machining services, including milling and turning, grinding, tapping, and 5-axis machining.

With our state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, experienced professionals, and rigorous quality control processes, we can provide clients with exceptional products manufactured to the highest standards.

Furthermore, we offer custom machining services to cater to each client’s unique needs, regardless of the project’s complexity.

Whether in small or large quantities, we can quickly and accurately produce high-quality CNC-machined stainless steel parts that meet the needs of the most demanding applications.

CNC machining 316 stainless steel

Our Quality Promise For Stainless Steel Parts

We have extensive experience in machining 316 SS and 316L SS parts. And we use state-of-the-art CNC machines to ensure precise tolerances and high-quality control. We can also work with you to create custom designs that meet your needs.

Some of the benefits of choosing our CNC machining services for your 316 SS and 316L SS parts include the following:

Precision tolerances: Our CNC machines can hold tight tolerances, so you can be sure your parts will meet your specifications.

High-quality control: We have a rigorous process to ensure that your parts meet the highest quality standards.

Custom design capabilities: We can work with you to create custom designs for your parts, so you can get exactly what you need.

We hope you’ll consider us if you’re looking for a reputable company to handle your 316 and 316L stainless steel machining needs. We’re confident that we can provide you with the quality parts you need, and we look forward to working with you.

FAQs

What Are The Differences Between SS 304 and 316?

There are several differences between SS 304 and SS 316 stainless steel:

Chemical Composition: SS 304 contains 18-20% chromium, 8-10.5% nickel, and 0.08% carbon, while SS 316 contains 16-18% chromium, 10-14% nickel, and 2-3% molybdenum.

Corrosion Resistance: SS 316 is more corrosion-resistant in chloride environments than SS 304.

Weldability: SS 304 is easier to weld than SS 316.

Temperature Resistance: SS 316 can withstand higher temperatures than SS 304.

Price: SS 316 is more expensive than SS 304.

Application: SS 304 is commonly used in food processing equipment, kitchen equipment, and architecture, while SS 316 is commonly used in chemical processing, medical devices, and marine equipment.

Overall, both SS 304 and SS 316 are excellent materials for various applications, and the choice between the two depends on the specific requirements of the project.

latest articles