What is the difference between 304 and 316
Two of the most common grades of austenitic stainless steel are 304 (1.4301) and 316 (1.4401). In appearance the 2 are indistinguishable and the few tests to differentiate between them include either hazardous chemicals (in the case of a molybdenum drop test) or expensive equipment (such as positive material identification). The 2 grades though have very unique characteristics due to their chemical composition and care should be taken when selecting which type is best suited to your application.
The cost of stainless steel is largely dependent on the alloys that are present in their composition. All stainless steels require a minimum of 10.5% chromium and they are alloyed with iron which makes up a large proportion of their final makeup. The various other elements present though have an impact on the properties and characteristics and ultimately, cost.
316 contains a minimum 2.0% molybdenum which makes it much more corrosion resistant than 304 however, as it is a more expensive element, generally makes 316 a more expensive grade of metal.