The 304L stainless steel channel is a metal that’s part of the 1.4301 steel type. It is the most versatile of stainless steel metals and because of that, is the most widely used. In the past, its nickname was 18/8 because it is alloyed with 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel. This chromium-nickel alloy can be deep drawn severely, and because of this, it is frequently used to create sinks and other hollow-ware. When using deep drawn methods, there’s no need for intermediate annealing. When working this grade of steel, it hardens quickly. In order to relieve stresses that occur while spinning or forming, the parts can be stress relief annealed or full annealed right after the forming is complete.
It also has great machinability, but when machining this alloy, it’s best to use chip breakers because the chips can become stringy. When machining, keep in mind that the work hardens quickly, so sharp tooling, heavy positive feeds, and a rigid setup is recommended if cut beneath the layer that is work-hardened due to prior passes.
The 304 stainless steel channel has a low content of carbon, which limits the formation of carbides that can be harmful, which is why it’s safe to use for many welded construction operations and projects that limit the service temperature to 800 degrees F. Heat treatment can’t be used to harden this metal. In order to increase the tensile strength and hardness, cold working can be used instead. This can develop slight magnetism.