• July 26th 2023


Stainless steel is a ubiquitous material used in a wide range of industries due to its excellent corrosion resistance, high strength, and good formability. Among the numerous grades of stainless steel, 304 and 305 are two of the most common and widely used ones. This essay will delve into the detailed comparison between stainless steel 305 and 304, focusing on their composition, physical properties, and applications.

Overview of Stainless Steel

Before comparing stainless steel 305 and 304, it is important to understand the general characteristics of stainless steel. Stainless steel is an iron-based alloy containing a minimum of 10.5% chromium, which provides the corrosion resistance property. Other elements such as nickel, manganese, carbon, and nitrogen can be added to enhance specific properties.

Stainless Steel Grades

Stainless steel is a popular material that is used in a wide range of applications, from construction to food processing. It is a type of steel that contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass, which forms a protective layer of chromium oxide on the surface, providing excellent corrosion resistance.

Stainless steel grades are classified based on their composition, properties, and applications. Here are some of the most commonly used stainless steel grades:

Austenitic Stainless Steel: This grade of stainless steel is the most commonly used and has excellent corrosion resistance. It is non-magnetic and can be easily formed and welded. Examples include 304 and 316 stainless steel.What is Austenitic Stainless Steel?

Ferritic Stainless Steel: This grade of stainless steel has high resistance to corrosion, but lower ductility and toughness than austenitic stainless steel. It is magnetic and has a lower chromium content. Examples include 409 and 430 stainless steel. What is the Ferritic Stainless Steel?

Martensitic Stainless Steel: This grade of stainless steel has a higher carbon content and is known for its high strength and hardness. It is magnetic and can be heat treated to improve its properties. Examples include 410 and 420 stainless steel. What is Martensitic Stainless Steel?

Duplex Stainless Steel: This grade of stainless steel is a combination of austenitic and ferritic stainless steel, offering a balance of strength and corrosion resistance. Examples include 2205 and 2507 stainless steel. What’s Duplex Stainless Steel?

Precipitation Hardening Stainless Steel: This grade of stainless steel can be heat treated to achieve high strength and corrosion resistance. It is typically used in aerospace and chemical processing applications. Examples include 17-4PH and 15-5PH stainless steel.

View More Steel Grades>

Stainless Steel 304

Composition and Properties

Stainless steel 304 is the most commonly used stainless steel grade. It contains 18-20% chromium and 8-10.5% nickel, with the balance being iron. The carbon content is typically held at 0.08% maximum. This composition provides it with excellent corrosion resistance, good formability, and weldability.


Stainless steel 304 finds widespread use in various fields due to its versatile properties. It is used in the food industry for cooking utensils, cutlery, and cookware due to its resistance to food acids. It is also used in construction for architectural cladding, roofing, and in the automotive industry for exhaust systems. 304 Stainless Steel Sheet: Properties, Applications, and Advantages

Stainless Steel 305

Composition and Properties

Stainless Steel 305, on the other hand, has similar chromium content to 304 at 17-19%, but a higher nickel content at 10.5-13%. The carbon content is held to a maximum of 0.12%. The higher nickel content gives 305 lower work hardening rate, making it suitable for certain cold-forming operations.


The primary use of stainless steel 305 is in applications requiring extensive cold forming, as its lower work hardening rate makes it easier to work with. This includes deep drawing, spinning, and cold heading. It's also used in kitchen utensils, electrical equipment, and certain fasteners. 305 Stainless Steel

Comparison Between 305 and 304

When comparing 305 and 304, the key difference lies in their work hardening rates owing to their different nickel contents. While 304 is more commonly used due to its lower cost and excellent corrosion resistance, 305 is preferred in applications requiring extensive cold forming, as it is less prone to work hardening. Both grades, however, offer excellent corrosion resistance and durability, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.


In conclusion, stainless steel grades 304 and 305 are both useful and versatile materials with different strengths. While 304 is the more common grade due to its lower cost and excellent properties, 305 is preferred for applications requiring extensive cold forming due to its lower work hardening rate. Understanding the differences between these two grades can help in choosing the right material for a specific application. Despite being different from carbon steel, both 304 and 305 stainless steel offer superior corrosion resistance and durability, which are essential in many industrial and domestic applications.