304 (1.4301) and its variants are the most common grades in the market. This reflects the market as a whole.
Approximate Composition – 18% Cr 8% Ni (exact composition ranges vary between EN and ASTM standards).
This grade combines the following characteristics:
- Good corrosion resistance
- Good weldability
- Excellent ductility giving stretch formability in pressings
- Hygienic surfaces
- Work hardening for spring properties
- Ease of manufacture at the steel mill
This combination of properties leads to the grade being used for a wide range of applications including:
Sinks, pots and pans, catering surfaces, architectural cladding, handrails, food processing, water treatment, pressure vessels, transport containers, surgical instruments, building support products, refrigeration equipment, watch cases, automotive trim, street furniture, anaerobic digestion, chemical plant, sanitaryware.
This is merely a sample of the applications for 304/304L (1.4301/1.4307). Despite the competition from grades with a similar corrosion resistance, this grade is likely to continue to form the backbone of the stainless steel market for some years to come.