Stainless steel, with its versatility and other tremendous benefits, is available in all shapes and sizes, not to mention the many different alloys and grades that it comes in. For manufacturers who rely on stainless steel for their industrial and commercial applications, knowing which material to choose can require a great deal of testing and investigation. Of course, getting it right can make all the difference, so it pays to do your research before you get started.
SAE 304 stainless steel (other names include A2 stainless steel and 18/8 stainless steel) is the most popular stainless steel alloy available today. It is formed using the main alloying agents chromium (around 18%) and nickel (around 8%). It is what is known as an austenite steel, which means that it is non-magnetic and has a eutectoid point that occurs at 727 °C (1,341 °F). While 304 steel has low electrical and thermal conductivity, it does offer higher formability and corrosion resistance than other stainless steel alloys. 304 was originally developed by Firth Brown Steels nearly one hundred years ago, originally being sold under the trademark Staybrite 18/8.
What are some of the Advantages of Stainless Steel?
Most people’s familiarity with stainless steel stems from its many home applications. Utensils, cookware, sinks, appliances, and more all rely on stainless steel for its corrosion resistance and durability, but its usefulness extends far beyond the kitchen.
Stainless steel offers excellent temperature resistance in both extreme hot and cold. It is easy to work with, whether you are cutting, forming, welding, machining, or fabricating it. Many stainless steel alloys are extremely strong, making it well suited to industries where strength is a priority, such as construction and architecture. It’s also very hygienic, the main reason it has become so ubiquitous in the food and beverage industries. It also offers a lengthy life cycle and many recycling options an important consideration today.
In particular, 304 stainless steel is among the most versatile alloys. Compared to other stainless steels, 304 has remarkable versatility, making it ideal for a wide range of manufacturing applications. This is in large part due to its high corrosion resistance in relation to other alloys. It is even resistant to intergranular corrosion, which often results from stress relieving or welding. It features a carbon maximum of .03 percent, so it is suitable for welding operations under 800 degrees F. And cold working with 304 allows you to make the steel both harder and stronger.
Additionally, 304 offers great resistance to corrosive environments. The chromium content helps it to resist oxidization, while its nickel content boosts its resistance to organic acids.
What are the Special Features of 304 Stainless Steel Tubing?
Stainless Steel Round Tubing is most often deployed for structural applications. It can serve a wide array of purposes, ranging from aesthetic to highly functional. Because of its lightweight properties, it offers great versatility in terms of support and it is especially prized in applications that require a high degree of workability but that do not involve extreme pressure. It’s also preferred for its cost-effectiveness
A list of properties include:
- Outstanding weight-bearing properties
- High corrosion resistance
- Strong durability
- Exceptional strength-to-weight ratio
- Resistance to thermal and electrical conductivity
- Ease of fabrication
- Easy to clean
- Hardenable via cold working
The 304L stainless steel round tube that we offer at Clinton has, like other 304 products, been alloyed with 8 percent nickel and 18 percent chromium. Its peculiar makeup means that 304L steel has corrosion resistance and heat resistance that are both tremendous. This product is especially able to withstand harsh conditions. Our customers especially enjoy it for its excellent forging, forming and welding capabilities.
As an austenitic alloy, 304 is capable of being severely deep drawn when necessary. It can also be cold worked to bolster the material’s hardness and tensile strength. On the other hand, heat treatment is possible as well.
When forging 304L stainless steel tubing, uniform temperatures are required that stay within the range of 1700 to 2300 degrees F. Upon completion, air cooling is possible with no fear of cracking. Manufacturers know that this metal hardens quickly. That means that if it is necessary to relieve any stress due to spinning or forming, the stress relief annealing or full annealing needs to take place immediately after forming.
304L stainless steel has a machinability rating of B1112 at 45 percent. Because the metal hardens quickly during machining, we recommend heavy positive feeds, a rigid setup, and sharp tooling.
We offer 304L stainless steel round tube in lengths up to 240 inches.
What are Common Applications for 304 Stainless Steel Tubing?
Our customers for 304 stainless steel round tube come from a wide variety of industries, so we have experience working with all kinds of applications. It is especially popular in the food, beverage, dairy, and chemical industries, thanks to its corrosion resistance and hygiene properties that make it suitable for use with citric acid, crude oil, and inorganic chemicals. It is also common in parts that will be used in welding, polishing, machining, or grinding.
Other popular uses include lightweight structures, plumbing, gas lines, tanks, enclosures, cabinets, housings, transportation, architectural, handrails, grab bars and table framing.
Choosing the right material for an application can make or break a company. Taking your time before settling upon the metal and alloy you will use can save a great deal of time and money down the road. You need to work with someone who understands your industry and will not only get the material right, but provide it to your exact specifications.
Clinton Aluminum is the Midwest’s leading supplier of aluminum and stainless steel products. We pride ourselves on being more than just a supplier. We want to partner with our clients to ensure that you get the absolute best value for every order. This means that when necessary, we will recommend a product or alloy we don’t carry. Call us today to speak with a member of our knowledgeable and friendly staff!