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What is austenitic stainless steel?


Famous stainless steel grades are austenitic stainless steel grades 304 and 316. It is called austenitic stainless steel because of the crystalline structure of the atoms when the composition and heat treatment conditions permit. The austenitic crystal structure has also been described as face-centered cubic (FCC), which defines many mechanical and physical properties of stainless steel.

In order to improve the pitting resistance of stainless steel, increasing amounts of chromium and molybdenum are added. In order to maintain the ideal austenitic microstructure, nickel is usually added. However, high-alloy super austenitic stainless steels with high molybdenum content (typically greater than 6%) are relatively expensive due to their high nickel content as well.

Austenitic stainless steels are non-magnetic, which is useful for specific applications. They also maintain excellent impact strength toughness, low to very low temperature temperatures. They are easy to manufacture, machine work and weld, but lower carbide grades such as 304L and 316L (UNS S31603, 1.4404) are less likely to be affected by carbide sensitization. Good corrosion performance, but limited strength.
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