The most widely used grades of stainless steel are 304 and 316. In many applications, these two metals are interchangeable since they look identical and have similar functionality.
Each are non-magnetic and tolerant to heat treatment, with the latter aspect making them both ideal candidates for laser marking. Before we go into the details of marking these materials, it is important to first establish the differences between them and how that affects their longevity and performance.
Differentiating 304 and 316 Stainless Steel
304 and 316 stainless steel share application abilities, some properties, and, of course, a similar appearance to the human eye. And while they share many similarities, it is important to distinguish between the materials so you can determine which will perform best in your project and environment.
If you are debating whether 304- or 316-grade stainless steel will be appropriate for your laser marking task at hand, consider your budget, the amount of corrosion your materials are prone to, and overall material composition to determine the best option.
Laser Marking 304 Stainless Steel
304 stainless steel is the more popular of the two material types, as it holds the status of being the most widely ordered stainless-steel grade in the country. Because it carries varied beneficial characteristics for a reasonable price, it is often considered a valuable asset.
Not only does 304 stainless steel show resistance to corrosion, but it also demonstrates high levels of machinability and weldability. When laser engraving 304 stainless steel, it’s often suggested that you increase the laser power and decrease the marking speed to achieve the best results. Then, you will be able to produce markings on products that can be used in many places, including hospitals and kitchens.
Uses of 304 Stainless Steel
304 stainless steel is often used in the medical industry because it has the ability to endure strong chemicals and prevent product contamination. In this field, the material is often used for trays and surgical tools. Laser marking 304 stainless steel materials in this industry is beneficial because the steel and its markings are able to withstand continuous disinfection treatments.
Additionally, 304 stainless steel meets sanitary regulations and is therefore considered FDA approved. Because it receives FDA approval, 304 stainless steel can also be used for fryers, food preparation tables, cookware, and tableware.
Laser Marking 316 Stainless Steel
Similarly, 316 stainless steel is also known for its versatility, durability, and cleanliness. It also has anti-corrosion and oxidation properties. For these reasons, it is commonly used in hospitals, marine environments, and even art projects, such as the Chicago Bean.
Uses of 316 Stainless Steel
316 stainless steel can be found as part of anything from boilers and water heaters to medical equipment and chemical processing materials. By laser marking 316 stainless steel, it is possible to achieve lasting marks on items that reside in highly acidic places and other environments that require a lot of material strength or heat resistance.
Applications for Laser Marking 304 or 316 Stainless Steel
When laser engraving 304 stainless steel or laser engraving 316 stainless steel, you can expect to achieve markings like branding, identification numbers, or instructions that are resistant to rusting.
Additionally, this process is ideal for displaying QR codes, Data Matrix codes, bar codes or other manufacturing information. Regardless of the task, laser marking 304 or 316 stainless steel results in permanent, high-contrast marks with detail that will stand the test of time.
Advantages of Choosing Lasers from TYKMA Electrox
TYKMA Electrox has been providing our customers with the most advanced fiber lasers for decades. Our expertise has allowed us to create laser marking systems that feature low-power components to maximize energy efficiency and savings. Additional benefits of choosing our systems for laser marking 304 or 316 stainless steel include:
- Air-cooled, solid-state, maintenance-free designs
- Advanced capabilities to solve the most complex applications
- No lamps, water cooling, or alignments required
- Longest reliability with up to 100,000-hour lifespans and 3-year or 18-month warranties
- Compact machine footprints with simple, modular designs
- User-friendly controls and ergonomic designs
When preparing to laser engrave 304 stainless steel or laser mark 316 stainless steel, be sure to check out our products that can be of assistance. Depending on your needs, we suggest that you choose from the following options when you start your next stainless steel laser marking project:
Contact Us About Ways to Practice Laser Marking on 304 or 316 Stainless Steel Today!
TYKMA Electrox is equipped with knowledge and experience to facilitate the completion of your next laser marking project.
If you have questions on the differences between laser marking 316 stainless steel and 304 stainless steel, we are ready to help. Reach out today!