Differences Between 316 and 316L Welded Stainless Steel Pipe

The 300 series of stainless steel grades, including 316 and 316L, are versatile and widely used in various industries. These alloys are composed of chromium, nickel, molybdenum, and other elements, with 316 and 316L differing in their carbon content.

The differences between 316 and 316L welded stainless steel pipe are so vast, it can be difficult to believe they are related. From production costs to practical applications and maintenance, these alloys can vary drastically.

Understanding these differences can be the difference between successfully completing a project and facing costly repair costs down the line. Learn more about the differences between these two alloys and how they can affect your project.
316L welded stainless steel pipe

Differences in chemical composition of 316 and 316L Stainless Steel Welded Pipe

Mention their chemical composition, including the percentage of key elements like chromium, nickel, and molybdenum

Both alloys contain chromium, nickel, and molybdenum, with the percentage of these elements varying slightly between the two grades.

Grade 316 contains 18% chromium, 10-14% nickel, and 2-3% molybdenum, while grade 316L contains 18% chromium, 12% nickel, and 2-3% molybdenum.

Both grades are also distinguished by their low carbon content. Grade 316L has a carbon content of less than 0.03%, while grade 316 has a carbon content of less than 0.08%.

stainless steel tube

Differences in corrosion resistance

Carbon content has a major influence on the corrosion resistance of 316 and 316L alloys. The reduced carbon content in 316L makes it more resistant to intergranular corrosion and pitting corrosion. It also increases the resistance to stress corrosion cracking.

316 stainless steel is more susceptible to corrosion than 316L, especially in chloride environments. The lower carbon content in 316L makes it more resistant to corrosion due to the formation of a protective chromium-rich oxide layer. Furthermore, 316L stainless steel has higher resistance to seawater and brine solutions, making it suitable for marine applications. The higher molybdenum content in the alloy also increases its corrosion resistance.

Both alloys exhibit good resistance to atmospheric corrosion and halogenic compounds, but for harsher environments, 316L is the preferred choice. The superior corrosion resistance of 316L makes it suitable for use in food processing, chemical processing, and pharmaceutical applications.

Differences in the strength 316 and 316L Welded Stainless Steel Pipe

An evaluation of the strength of 316 and 316L welded stainless steel pipe reveals distinct differences.

The two grades are similar in composition, but differ in carbon content and corrosion resistance.

Some key differences include:

- The tensile strength of 316 stainless steel pipe is higher than 520MPa, while that of 316L welded stainless steel pipe is lower than 480MPa.

- Carbon is a strong austenite forming element that increases the strength of stainless steel pipes. As such, 316 stainless steel pipe has higher tensile strength compared to 316L.

- Welding sections of 316 stainless steel pipe need solution annealing, while 316L stainless steel does not require this process.

These differences can have a significant impact on practical applications.

This difference must be considered when choosing the proper material for a particular application.
stainless steel  pipe tig welding

Differences in production costs

Production costs for 316 and 316L welded stainless steel pipe are largely similar due to their similar composition. In terms of raw materials, the two grades are almost identical. While the cost of producing 316 may be slightly higher due to its higher content of chromium and molybdenum, the difference in price is negligible for most applications.

The difference in production cost is more evident in terms of labor and production time. 316L stainless steel pipe requires less time to weld and is easier to fabricate compared to 316. As a result, the cost of production is lower for 316L grade.

The cost of production for both grades is further reduced when they are produced in bulk. The economies of scale achieved when producing in bulk, combined with the minimal difference in cost between the two grades, makes 316L a more popular choice.

Differences in the scope of use

Grade 316 has a wider scope of application than grade 316L due to its higher tensile strength. The increased strength of grade 316 makes it suitable for a multitude of applications, including:

- Structural components and components subject to high stress
- High temperature applications and cryogenic services
- Applications requiring good formability

Grade 316L is preferred for its corrosion resistance, making it suitable for use in corrosive environments such as in chemical processing or in marine, coastal and industrial environments. It is also used in food processing and medical applications. Grade 316L does not require solution annealing after welding, meaning it can be used in applications where speed and cost are of utmost importance.

Overall, grade 316 stainless steel is preferred for applications that require high stress and strength, while grade 316L is used for applications where corrosion resistance is the priority. Both grades are used in a range of industries and have proven to be reliable and trustworthy.

Maintenance and Care

It is important to note that the corrosion resistance of 316L welded stainless steel pipe is higher than that of 316 welded stainless steel pipe. Therefore, it is important to take proper care and maintenance when dealing with welded 316L stainless steel pipe.

To ensure optimal longevity, the following maintenance and care tips should be followed:

- Regularly inspect the welded 316L stainless steel pipe for signs of corrosion, rust, or other forms of damage.
- Inspect the welds regularly to ensure they are properly sealed and free of defects.
- Be sure to use appropriate cleaning agents and techniques to prevent corrosion and damage.

Future Developments

Recent advances in the technology of stainless steel pipe manufacturing have led to new developments in the field of welded 316L stainless steel pipe. One of the most significant developments is the increased use of 316L stainless steel to create stronger, more corrosion-resistant welds. 

This alloy is composed of lower levels of carbon than standard grade 316, reducing the risk of sensitization during the welding process. Additionally, this alloy does not require post-weld solution annealing, making it easier to weld and more cost-effective.


In conclusion, the differences between 316 and 316L stainless steel grades can be summarized as follows:

- Grade 316L has lower carbon content and is more resistant to corrosion.
- Grade 316 has higher tensile strength.

The choice of stainless steel grade is important for various applications as it affects mechanical properties, corrosion resistance, and cost. It is important to consider the elements of the alloy, the environment of use, and the desired properties of the material when selecting the right grade of stainless steel.

Vinmay is a professional manufacturer specialized in 316L welded stainless steel  pipes and fittings for over 15 years. We provide wide ranges of pipe for different purposes in ASTM, EN,DIN and AS standards, which are used in decoration, water supply pipeline, dairy,food and chemical industry and so on. For more information , please contact us. Free sample can be provide today!

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