In 304 alloy, the maximum carbon is 0.08%. Low carbon content means less carbide precipitation in the heat-affected zone during welding and a lower susceptibility to intergranular corrosion. Technically, 304 alloy meets the requirements of 302 alloy, except that 302 is harder than 304 with the same amount of cold work. Both hardness and tensile strength are increased when cold worked. Both hardness and tensile strength are increased when cold worked. Additionally, 304 alloy has better corrosion resistance than 302.
304L alloy is the same as 304 alloy but with slightly higher nickel content (8-12%) and lower carbon content. The lower carbon level increases weldability and lessens inclusion. The chemistry of 304L alloy makes it less susceptible to sensitization (i.e., the reduction of a material’s corrosion resistance due to exposure to elevated temperatures). 304L alloy is also slightly weaker than 304 alloy.
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