304, 18-8, 410 SS
304 is the standard "18/8"; stainless steel, as well as being the most widely used and versatile of all the stainless grades. It also has excellent forming and welding properties. Some applications include food processing equipment, kitchen benches, fasteners, springs, heat exchangers etc.
Type 304 stainless contains 0.06% carbon (for strength), 18.5% chromium (providing the passive oxide layer that gives S/S its corrosion resistance), and 9% nickel (for formability). This makes grade 304 stainless a very versatile material with many applications and uses.
Grade 304 stainless is generally non-magnetic, however, when cold worked, the area subjected to the cold-working can become slightly magnetic. Cold working also increases the strength of this specialised steel.
Whilst the initial cost of grade 304 stainless (and, indeed, all of this family of steels) is higher than other materials, because of its relatively low maintenance and its superior corrosion resistance, the long term costs for grade 304 stainless are in fact lower than for other materials. This means grade 304 stainless is, in the long run, good for the hip pocket.
Type 304 stainless is also 100% recyclable. In fact, the average stainless steel item consists of approximately 60% recycled stainless steel. So, grade 304 stainless is also good for the environment.
Grade 304 stainless, however, is unsuitable for marine or high pollution environments. For such applications, grade 316 stainless is recommended. Of course, the smoother the finish, the more corrosion resistant the steel will be.