We work with a variety of stainless steel grades, with one of our most popular being 304L. Type 304L stainless steel is a low-carbon version of the 304 steel alloy (this is where the “L” comes from!) – it has somewhat lower mechanical properties than the standard 304 type, but it’s widely used for specific applications due to its extreme versatility.
Here, we’re going to cover the properties of 304L, its advantages, and the applications it’s commonly used for.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between 304 and 304L Stainless Steel?
304L is 300-series stainless steel that is one of the most widely used stainless alloys due to its corrosion-resistance and easy fabrication. Both 304 and 304L stainless can be used for many similar applications and the differences are minor, but they do exist.
Although it has a slight reduction in mechanical performance characteristics when compared to standard 304 stainless steel, it can be used in an “as-welded state” and doesn’t degrade nearly as fast. By eliminating the need to anneal weld joints prior to using the stainless part, you can skip that last step and save time and effort.
Other than this slight variation in its composition 304L stainless steel is used is many of the same applications as 304, and tends to be just as commonly found.
Advantages of 304L Stainless Steel
There are numerous benefits of 304L steel. Because it’s low-carbon, it can be used in essentially any conditions and is extremely versatile.
Advantages of 304L stainless steel include:
- Very similar to 304 grade
- Extreme corrosion resistance (especially in oxidizing environments)
- Elimination of carbon precipitation during the welding process
- Resistance to moderately aggressive organic acids
- Weld annealing not required, except in high-stress applications
- High heat resistance
- Can be air-cooled after hot forming without cracking
- Hardens rapidly after cold forming
Because of these advantages of 304L, it’s (not surprisingly) a very popular option for industry applications. Atlantic Stainless offers a huge inventory of 304L steel products, including plates, sheets, round bars, flat bars, equal leg angles, unequal leg angles, pipe tubes, and fittings, beams and channels, hex bars, square bars, square tubes, rectangular tubes, and more. If you know what you’re looking for, check out or product catalog or contact us directly for guidance from our experienced team.
Common 304L Stainless Applications
304L stainless is ideal for both commercial and at-home applications. Some specific examples of uses for this grade of steel can include:
- Aerospace and automotive structures
- Architectural paneling, molding, trim and other details
- Chemical containers to be used for transport
- Cooking tools (such as pots and pans)
- Construction material for buildings
- Food processing equipment (such as wine, beer brewing, and milk)
- Heat exchangers
- Kitchen equipment (such as sinks or appliances)
- Marine environment equipment (such as nuts, screws or bolts)
- Railing and trim
- Threaded fasteners
- Welded or woven water filtration screens
Due to its immense versatility, 304L can be used across a wide variety of industrial applications, especially in high-corrosion environments.
Contact the Stainless Experts
Atlantic Stainless is a full-service stainless steel distributor, offering more than 150 years of combined experience among our team. We are proud to offer a wide variety of stainless grades, from 300 series to 600 series and beyond. As a “one-stop-shop” service center, no inquiry is too large or too small, so contact us to request a quote!