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Compare stainless steel 201 and stainless steel 304 - 5 ways to distinguish

Stainless steel 201 and 304 are often two popular choices when it comes to stainless steel materials. They have differences in chemical composition, physical properties and mechanical properties. To distinguish between stainless steel 201 and stainless steel 304, you can use a solution, use a metal shot machine, use a magnet, a cutting machine and most accurately, take it to a component testing center.

Let's explore with Kosmos the diversity and characteristics of these two materials.

Stainless steel 201 and 304 have many differences
Stainless steel 201 and 304 have many differences (Source: istockphoto.com)
1

Compare stainless steel 201 and 304

According to Kosmos statistics from Google Trend, a tool that analyzes consumer keyword searches shows that 304 stainless steel has significantly more searches than 201 stainless steel. That also shows that 304 stainless steel is used. more widely used and popular.

Evaluation table of user search results for stainless steel 304 and stainless steel 201 from November 12, 11 to December 2023, 8
Evaluation table of user search results for stainless steel 304 and stainless steel 201 from November 12, 11 to December 2023, 8

Although both are stainless steel, they still have their own characteristics on chemical composition, physical properties and mechanical properties. Let's compare stainless steel 201 and 304 to have a more detailed overview of these two materials.

Chemical composition

Based on ASTM A240 standard, the difference between stainless steel 201 and 304 in chemical composition can be seen as follows.

Ingredient (%) Stainless Steel AISI201 Stainless Steel AISI304
Carbon (C) ≤ 0.15% ≤ 0.08%
Manganese (Mn) ≤ 5.5 – 7.5% ≤ 2.00%
Phosphorus (P) ≤ 0.06% ≤ 0.045%
Sulfur (S) ≤ 0.03% ≤ 0.03%
Silicone (Si) ≤ 1.00% ≤ 1.00%
Chromium (Cr) 16 - 18% 18.0 - 20.0%
Nickel (Ni) 4 - 6% 8.0 - 10.5%
Nitrogen (N) ≤ 0.10 % ≤ 0.10 %
Copper (Cu) ≤ 0.5 % ≤ 0.5 %
Iron (Fe) Remain Remain

Physical properties

Below is a comparison table of the physical properties of the two types stainless steel 201 and 304.

Steel Marks Stainless Steel AISI304 Stainless Steel AISI201
Density (kg/m3) 8000 7860
Elastic Modulus (GPa) – Elastic Modulus 193 197
Thermal Expansion (μm/m/°C) – Thermal Expansion From 0-100 °C 17.2 16.6
Thermal Conductivity at 100 °C (W/mK) 16.2 16.3
Specific Heat – Specific Heat 0-100 °C from 0 – 100 degrees C (J/kg.K) 500 502
Electrical Resistivity (nΩ.m) 720 685
Tensile strength (MPa) 515 685
Minimum elastic force – Yield strength 0.2% – Proof (MPa) 205 292
Compressive strength (MPa) 205 – 310 365
Elongation at break rate – Elongation at break 40% 56%
Hardness Rockwell B max – Hardness Rockwell B max 92 100

Mechanical properties

Below is a comparison table of mechanical properties stainless steel 201 and stainless steel 304.

Comparative Criteria Stainless Steel AISI201 Stainless Steel AISI304
Shape Shaped with similar methods
Welding ability Weld well with conventional welding techniques and fusion welding
The temperature required to shape the product 1.149 - 1.232 degrees C 750 - 1.150 degrees C
Annealing temperature 1.010 - 1.093 degrees C 1.010 - 1.120 degrees C

The data from the 3 tables above are quite specialized. So let Customers know stainless steel 304 and 201 Which one is better, Kosmos has also researched and concluded the following table.

Criteria Rating
Price Stainless steel 304 is more expensive than stainless steel 201 because it contains nickel
Color Stainless steel 304 has a brighter surface than stainless steel 201
Stiffness Stainless steel 201 is harder than stainless steel 304
Weight Stainless steel 304 weighs more than stainless steel 201
Elasticity Stainless steel 201 is about 304% better than stainless steel 2
Expansion Stainless steel 201 is about 304% weaker than stainless steel 3
Thermal conductivity Similar
Electrical conductivity Stainless steel 201 is about 304% better than stainless steel 5
Anti-rust ability Stainless steel 304 resists rust better than stainless steel 201 because it contains Chromium and Sulfur
Resistance to surface pitting Stainless steel 304 is more resistant to pitting than stainless steel 201
2

How to distinguish stainless steel 201 and 304

To distinguish between 304 and 201 stainless steel, five effective ways that you can refer to are:

  • Use test solution
  • Use a metal shot machine
  • Use magnets
  • Cutting machines
  • Take it to a component testing center

Use solution

A common way to distinguish between 201 and 304 stainless steel is to use a test solution. When exposed to stainless steel 201 and 304, they will react differently.

  • Stainless steel 201: The solution changes from blue to pink.
  • Stainless steel 304: The solution remains blue.
Solution to distinguish stainless steel 304 and stainless steel 201
Solution to distinguish stainless steel 304 and stainless steel 201

Use a metal shot machine

With the development of technology, people have invented a metal shooting machine to determine the internal composition of stainless steel. The way this machine works is to emit an X-ray and receive back fluorescent radiation from the metal.

Metal composition analyzer
Metal composition analyzer (Source: langshuotechnology.en.made-in-china.com)

Stainless steel 201 and 304 have different compositions, so they will emit light rays with different wavelengths. By using these wavelengths, the device can analyze the composition and content of substances in metals, helping to distinguish between 201 and 304 stainless steel alloys.

Use magnets

Using a magnet is a quick way to distinguish these two types of stainless steel. We bring the magnet close to stainless steel 2 and stainless steel 201. The results show:

  • Stainless steel 304 is not attracted to magnets (or is attracted very slightly) 
  • Stainless steel 201 is attracted to magnets more strongly than stainless steel 304
Use magnets to distinguish between 201 and 304 stainless steel
Use magnets to distinguish between 201 and 304 stainless steel (Source: istockphoto.com)

Note: This testing method is for reference only and is not an absolutely accurate method.

Use a cutter

When using a cutting machine to cut 201 stainless steel, it often produces sparks due to its high iron content. In contrast, 304 stainless steel usually does not create this phenomenon when cut because it has more nickel and chromium content.

Stainless steel 201 sparks when cut, while stainless steel 304 has no phenomenon
Stainless steel 201 sparks when cut, while stainless steel 304 has no phenomenon (Source: istockphoto.com)

Take it to a component testing center

If you need absolute accuracy, you should take the test sample to a testing center such as Vinacontrol, because it is fully equipped with modern equipment and machinery, helping to return the most accurate results. However, this method also has some limitations: it takes time to get tested and not all provinces have testing centers.

You can refer to the above distinctions to buy the right product for your needs. If you have any questions, please comment below, Kosmos Will respond immediately upon receiving information

References:
  1. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/difference-between-304-stainless-steel-201-artemis-kuang
  2. https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%A9p_kh%C3%B4ng_g%E1%BB%89
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAE_304_stainless_steel
  4. https://inoxquangminh.com/so-sanh-va-phan-biet-inox-304-va-201/#Co_the_nhan_biet_phan_biet_inox_201_va_304_bang_nam_cham_hay_khong
  5. https://inoxtanthanhlong.com/tin-tuc/su-khac-nhau-giua-inox-304-va-inox-201-tai-sao-inox-304-lai-dat-hon.html
  6. https://ihbi.com.vn/inox-201-la-gi-inox-304-la-gi-so-sanh-su-khac-biet-giua-inox-sus-201-va-sus-304/?lang=vi
  7. https://petnorlng.com/so-sanh-inox-201-va-304
  8. https://hobbyhome.vn/blogs/news/12-cach-phan-biet-inox-304-va-inox-201

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