Characteristics and Use examples of 304 Stainless Steel

Stainless steel tubing is widely used in applications needing corrosion resistance, high-temperature, and/or high-pressure characteristics. Mechanical tube, pipe, and structural tube types of 304 grade stainless steel are all formulated with these properties. The 304 grade is an austenitic stainless steel that typically contains at least 18 % chromium and a minimum of 8 % nickel and is often referred to as 18-8. Boyer Steel, Inc. stocks numerous types of steel tube and pipe in a multitude of sizes produced in accordance with internationally recognized standards including ASTM International and ASM International (for example: ASTM: A-312 welded and seamless, A-269 seamless and welded, A249 welded, and A511 seamless) that provides corrosion resistance to most types of oxidizing acids except saline types.


Solving Problems With Stainless Steel


Stainless Steel Resists Oxidation

Oxidation was a problem for a customer using round stainless tubes in a natural outdoor environment. Their hand rails were deteriorating, looked unattractive, and had to be painted frequently. Boyer Steel recommended 304 stainless steel tubes to reduce maintenance and improve appearance. Stainless steel tubing has the widest range of operating temperatures compared to copper, aluminum or most alloys. For 304 stainless tubing, depending on O.D. and pressure required, the range is from -420 degrees F to 1,700 degrees F (-250 degrees C to 925 degrees C). Operating temperatures are important in a number of industries, including food processing. The initial cost of material and production cost was justified by the reduction in maintenance costs and the superior appearance.


Stainless Steel Withstands Heat Cycling

A customer manufactures racks to hold pans in large commercial ovens. They wanted a solution that could withstand heat cycling and clean up easily as well as be compatible with their manufacturing process. They decided on stainless steel 304 tubing that is precut to length. Stainless steel tubing provides superior resistance to fatigue from continuous heat cycles and offers a longer lifespan. The customer had Boyer Steel precut the tubing which reduced labor costs by allowing incoming material to go directly to the assembly area, decreasing waste caused by cutting errors and rejected parts. This manufacturer was able to produce racks that offered long life, easy cleaning, and outstanding appearance.

In addition to the corrosion and temperature characteristics, 304 and 304L stainless steel tubing and piping can be machined and have excellent welding characteristics. This combination of physical and technical attributes makes this class of metal popular in the food processing equipment, handrail and guardrail, power generation, automotive, and process instrumentation industries.