What is the difference between 316 vs 316L stainless steel?

As one of the most commonly used stainless steels, 316 series stainless steel comes in two main types.

316 stainless steel (CF8M) and 316L stainless steel (CF3M)

This steel performs better than 310 and 304 stainless steel due to the extra molybdenum contained in it. Stainless steel 316 also has good resistance to chloride erosion, so it is commonly used in Marine environments. It is important to understand the alloy differences when you choose 316 vs 316L stainless steel

316L stainless steel

316 vs 316L stainless steel composition

The chemical compositions of 316 and 316L stainless steels were compared

The difference between 316 vs 316L stainless steels is that 316L has a maximum carbon content of 0.08% and good weldability, while 316 has a carbon content of 0.03% and medium weldability.

Both 316 and 316L stainless steels are austenitic stainless steels, which means that these stainless steels are resistant to corrosion through the use of iron carbide during the manufacturing process.

In addition to chromium and nickel, these alloys contain molybdenum, which also makes them more resistant to corrosion. 317L has higher corrosion resistance, with molybdenum content increasing from 2% to 3% in 316 and 316L to 3% to 4%.

316 vs 316L stainless steel properties

Same properties of both stainless steel

Both stainless steels are considered the stronger alloys. Because of their nickel content, they can be manufactured at lower temperatures and remain ductile whether in roll forming, drawing, or bending. When heat enters the equation, they are not hardenable and can be easily shaped through a mold.

Both 316 and 316L stainless steels offer excellent corrosion resistance for use in chloride environments. This is because both nickel and molybdenum enable the alloy to withstand acid and chloride without being damaged. Both alloys are considered “Marine grade stainless steels” due to their excellent corrosion resistance.

Both 316 and 316L alloys are excellent for welding. Both stainless steels do not crack in the extreme heat of welding as other metals do.

Different properties of both stainless steels

The maximum carbon content of 316L stainless steel is 0.08%. The maximum carbon content of 316 stainless steel is 0.03%. When choosing between 316 and 316L stainless steel, the latter has a slight advantage over the former. In other words, the 316L has a longer life in high-chloride environments due to its lower carbon content. Compared with 316 steel, 316L steel has better resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion during its service life.

After welding, 316 is more susceptible to weld corrosion than 316L due to its higher carbon content. However, this is only a problem if the metal needs to be soldered in a few minutes or heated to 425-815 ° C. 316L stainless steel is suitable for applications where maximum corrosion resistance is required where post-weld annealing is not possible.

316 vs 316L stainless steel cost

Although 316 stainless steel has a lower carbon content than 316L stainless steel, the price of the two stainless steels is about the same. Neither the 316 nor the 316L is the cheapest option. The 304 is similar to the 304L, but the price is lower. Both are less durable than 317 and 317L, which have a higher molybdenum content and have better overall corrosion resistance.

316 vs 316L stainless steel applications

Due to the above qualities, 316 stainless steel has a variety of uses, including:

  • Medical implant
  • The line of control
  • The condenser
  • Semiconductor
  • Heat exchanger
  • Food processing Equipment
  • Hot Water System
  • Alloy seamless steel tube
316 vs 316L stainless steel


316L stainless steel is one of the variants of 316 stainless steel and has many similarities. The main difference between the 316 and 316L brands is their ingredients. 316L stainless steel is a low carbon variant of 316 stainless steel because it has a lower carbon content than 316 stainless steel. The carbon content of 316 stainless steel is up to 0.08%, while the maximum carbon content of 316L stainless steel is 0.03%. 316H, by contrast, is the high-carbon version. The 316L also be softer than the 316 because of its low carbon content. In addition, the 316 alloy has more molybdenum than 316L, which makes it more resistant to pitting and crevice corrosion and provides better protection from exposure to perchloride chemicals and acids. The proportions of the other elements, 316 and 316 are similar.

They also differ in yield strength and tensile strength.

The difference in composition leads to the use of 316 and 316L in different applications, with the 316L more suitable for manufacturing processes that require a lot of soldering because the lower carbon content minimizes harmful carbide deposits. The 316L is the medical implant of choice in more cases than the 316.

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