Refers to 300 series stainless, the most popular of the stainless alloys accounting for 85% – 90% of stainless fasteners sold. Named for Sir Robert Williams Austen, an English metallurgist, austenitic stainless is a crystal structure formed by heating steel, chromium, and nickel to a high temperature where it forms the characteristics of 300 series stainless steel. An “AUSTENITE” is a molecular structure where 8 atoms of iron surround one atom of carbon, thus limiting the corrosive effects of the carbon. Austenitic fasteners have the highest level of corrosion resistance in the stainless family, cannot be hardened by heat treatment, and are non-magnetic for practical purposes.

The most popular of austenitic grades is known generically as “18-8 stainless” and includes grades 302, 302HQ, 303, 304, 305, and XM-7. Typical industries using 18-8 fasteners include: food, dairy, wine chemical, pulp and paper, pharmaceutical, boating, swimming pool, pollution control, electronic, medical and hospital equipment, computer, textile.

Type 316 stainless has added nickel and especially molybdenum. The molybdenum (called moly) sharply increases corrosion resistance to chlorides and sulfates, including various sulfurous acids in the pulp industry. It has superior tensile strength at high temperatures compared to 18-8. Besides pulp and paper, typical industries using 316 are: photographic and other chemicals, ink, textile, bleach, rubber.

Exotic metals in the 300 series include 309, 310, 317, 321, and 347. With superior corrosion resistance at elevated temperatures, these metals are used for furnace parts, high temperature containers and processing equipment, aircraft parts such as collector rings, exhaust systems, and equipment for very corrosive compounds of sulfuric, nitric, citric, and lactic acids.

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