Stainless Steel 304/304L

Your guide to 304/304L Stainless Steel Machining



The most widely used stainless steel in the world

Offers a great balance of strength and workability

Very good value for money

304 is a common grade of stainless steel, chosen for its very good corrosion resistance, strength and workability.

This guide will take you through the main attributes, common applications, notes for designers and suitable finishing and treatments, as well as UK stock sizes and property tables. Don't forget to bookmark the page so you can refer back later.

If you are interested in 304/304L stainless machined parts, please scroll to the bottom of the page for more information about our service and to request a quote.

304 Guide: Properties, Applications and Design Considerations


What is 304 Stainless Steel?
304 is the most common stainless steel used globally. It is chosen for its excellent corrosion resistance and value for money.

304 and other austenitic steels also offer a balance of strength and workability. 

304L is the extra low carbon form of 304 which has improved resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion in chloride bearing environments.

The most common form of 304 is 18/8 – which contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel.

304 Machinability

Stainless steel 304 has good machinability. We recommend the following when machining 304:

  • Keep cutting edges sharp as dull edges cause excess work hardening
  • Light cuts but deep enough to prevent work hardening by riding on the surface of the material
  • Use of chip breakers to assist in ensuring swarf remains clear of the work
  • Use of coolants and lubricants in large quantities due to low thermal conductivity which can result in heat concentrating at the cutting edges

You may also see 304 referred to as:

  • 18/8 
  • 1.4301/304
  • 1.4307/304L
  • S30400
  • 304S15
  • 304S16
  • 304S31
  • EN58E
  • S11

Industry Examples: Food processing | Architecture | Pharmaceutical


Typical Components & Applications: Kitchen & food processing equipment | Buildings & décor | Tanks & containers | Water tubing | Chemical containers | Heat exchangers | Domestic tools & utensils | Architectural panelling, trim & railings

Main Attributes:
  • Can withstand corrosion from most oxidising acids
  • Easy to sanitize due to its durability
  • Excellent toughness
  • Susceptible to corrosion from chloride solutions and saline environments
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Outstanding welding characteristics
  • Good heat resistance – oxidation resistance in intermittent use up to 870°c and continuous use up to 925°c, however continuous use at 425-860°c is not recommended. In this instance, 304L is recommended.
Can we meet your stainless steel 304/304L machining needs? Contact us now
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Further Reading & Resources

British Stainless Steel Association


304/304L Machining Stainless Steel Machined Parts


Penta Precision provides the following  304/304L machining services: 
  • CNC milling
  • CNC turning
  • Prototypes and batch runs
  • Insert installation
  • Part marking
  • Manual milling
  • Manual turning
  • Machining design advice
  • Design for manufacture service

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