Austenitic stainless steel

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300 Series austenitic stainless steel has austenite as its primary phase (face centered cubic crystal). These are alloys containing chromium and nickel, and sometimes molybdenum and nitrogen, structured around the Type 302 composition of iron, 18% chromium, and 8% nickel. 200 Series austenitic stainless steels replace the majority of their nickel content with manganese to reduce cost. Austenitic steels are not hardenable by heat treatment. The most familiar stainless steel is probably SAE 304 stainless steel, also called 18/8 or A2 stainless steel. Type 304 surgical stainless steel is an austenitic steel containing 18-20% chromium and 8-10% nickel.

Austenitic stainless steel can be tested by nondestructive testing using the dye penetrant inspection method but not the magnetic particle inspection method. Eddy-current testing may also be used. It is the primary stainless steel used in aviation construction. Chemical and steel industry-applicable grades are SAE steel grades 308, 308L, 316, 316L, 316LN (nitrogen bearing), 312, 309L, and 310L. "L" denotes a carbon percentage less than 0.03%, mostly used for corrosion heat resistance and reducing sensitivity to chromium carbide formation. Another grade, 312, is used for dissimilar steel welding, also known as universal alloy steel as unknown composition steels can be welded. For high temperature applications at greater than 600°C, grades 309 and 310 are preferred. Grade 316 is alloyed with molybdenum (~2-3%) for high temperature strength, pitting and crevice corrosion resistance.

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