Stainless Steel Pipe 201 and 304: Which is Better?


Stainless steel pipes, also known as stainless steel tubes, are widely used in various fields due to their high durability and excellent corrosion resistance. These pipes are classified based on their chemical composition and properties, with 201 and 304 being the most popular types. What are the differences between stainless steel 201 and 304? Which one is a better choice? Let’s explore in this article!

1. What is Stainless Steel 201?

Stainless Steel 201 belongs to the Austenitic group. It has a high content of Nitrogen and Manganese while the Nickel content is reduced. Although 201 stainless steel is non-magnetic, it has lower Chromium content, limiting its corrosion resistance. Therefore, during use, it is advisable to avoid direct contact with acids or salts to maintain the material’s durability and quality.

Manganese – One of the Main Composition Differences Between Stainless Steel 201 and 304

Manganese – One of the Main Composition Differences Between Stainless Steel 201 and 304

2. What is Stainless Steel 304?

Stainless steel 304, part of the austenitic class of stainless steels, is renowned for its superior corrosion and heat resistance compared to regular stainless steels. Its primary composition includes 18% chromium and 8% nickel, along with small amounts of other metals. Stainless steel 304 is characterized by low magnetism, poor thermal and electrical conductivity, and excellent formability. Due to these properties, it is widely used in high-quality industries such as industrial equipment, medical devices, food processing, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals.

Stainless Steel 304 has two main variants: 304L and 304H

Stainless Steel 304 has two main variants: 304L and 304H

  • Standard 304: Contains around 18% chromium and 8% nickel, with a carbon content not exceeding 0.03%.
  • 304L: Has a lower carbon content of approximately 0.03%, allowing it to be used in a “welded” state even in highly corrosive environments.
  • 304H: Contains a higher carbon content between 0.04-0.10%, enabling it to withstand temperatures above 427°C.

3. Comparison between Stainless Steel 201 and 304

3.1. Corrosion Resistance

304 stainless steel exhibits superior corrosion resistance due to its higher chromium and nickel content (18% chromium and 8% nickel) compared to 201 (16-18% chromium and 3.5-5.5% nickel). 304 is better suited for harsh environments like seawater and strong chemical solutions, while 201 is more prone to rust in these conditions.

3.2. Heat Resistance

304 stainless steel can withstand higher temperatures, up to 870-925°C, compared to 201, which can only handle 600-675°C.

3.3. Hardness

Although both types of stainless steel have high hardness, 201 is slightly harder than 304. However, this higher hardness does not compensate for its inferior corrosion and heat resistance.

3.4. Electrical Conductivity

Both 201 and 304 have low electrical conductivity due to their austenitic structure, but 304 is slightly better.

3.5. Surface Appearance

304 stainless steel has a brighter and shinier surface because of its higher chromium content. It maintains a smooth, shiny appearance over time. In contrast, 201 has a duller surface and is more prone to tarnishing when exposed to environmental factors like humidity, salt, and chemicals.

3.6. Cost

304 stainless steel is more expensive than 201, mainly due to its higher nickel and chromium content. Nickel, in particular, is costly but enhances mechanical strength and ductility. In contrast, 201 replaces some nickel with manganese, reducing production costs but also decreasing corrosion resistance.

Quick Comparison Table: Stainless Steel 201 vs. 304

Criteria Inox 201 Inox 304
Corrosion Resistance Lower Higher
Heat Resistance Inferior Superior
Hardness Better Lesser
Electrical Conductivity Inferior Superior
Surface Finish Less shiny, more prone to tarnish Shiny, more uniform color
Price Lower Higher

4. Applications of Stainless Steel 201 and Stainless Steel 304

Stainless Steel 201 is widely used in the production of household goods (pots, pans, sink and cutlery), interior decoration (stair railings, handrails, and door frames), construction details (windows, wall cladding, and exterior decorative elements)
Due to its superior corrosion and heat resistance, Stainless Steel 304 is widely used in various fields such as:
– Food and Beverage Industry: Storage tanks, fermentation vessels, mixers, ice machines, processing tables, and piping systems.
– Medical and Pharmaceutical Industry: Trolleys and surgical instruments.
– Chemical Industry: Storage tanks, reaction vessels, and piping systems.
– Construction: Railings, stairs, doors, window frames, and wall cladding.
– Automotive Industry: Exhaust pipes and decorative parts.

5. Which is Better: Stainless Steel 201 or Stainless Steel 304?

The choice between Stainless Steel 201 and Stainless Steel 304 depends on your specific needs. If you need a material with superior corrosion and heat resistance, Stainless Steel 304 is the best choice. On the other hand, if you want to save costs and only need a material with relatively good durability, Stainless Steel 201 is suitable.

Stainless Steel 201 or Stainless Steel 304

Son Ha SSP is a reputable unit, specializing in providing stainless steel pipe – box products, cold rolled coils of diverse types with high quality, meeting all customer needs.

Our products include:

  • Industrial stainless steel pipes: Including round pipes, square pipes, rectangular pipes meeting standards ASTM A312, ASTM A778, JIS G3459, DIN EN 10217-7. In addition, Son Ha SSP industrial stainless steel pipes have a PED certificate – TOP INTERNATIONAL QUALITY CERTIFICATION FOR Stainless Steel.
  • Ornamental Stainless Steel Tubes: Son Ha SSP’s Ornamental Stainless Steel Tubes have a deep brightness of up to 600 Grit, suitable for failed interior and exterior decoration, and production of household products.
  • Cold-rolled stainless steel coils: The product has good heat resistance, high durability, stable durability, easy to stretch and laminate for shaping.

Besides, we still provide services:

  • Fast shipping, guaranteed product quantity and quality.
  • Produced according to quantity and specific requirements of each customer.
  • Our dedicated and professional staff is always ready to support customers from consulting to delivery.

Please contact Son Ha SSP today via Hotline +84 982 777 513 to receive free consultation and receive the earliest quote for 201 and 304 stainless steel pipes!

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