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Stainless Steel Grades for Cleanrooms: 304, 316, and 430

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Stainless steel furniture and equipment can be found in most types of cleanroom environments, and for good reason. Stainless steel is durable, attractive, easy to clean, corrosion resistant, and able to withstand vigorous cleanings.

Which type of stainless steel is right for you? That depends on the type of cleanroom equipment or cleanroom furniture you’re looking to buy, how you’ll use it, and how you’ll clean it.

There are more than 50 types of stainless steel grades recognized by the American Iron and Steel Institute (ASI). Below is a look at the three most common types of of stainless steel grades used in furniture and equipment in cleanrooms, labs, manufacturing facilities, and sterile environments.

Stainless Steel Grade 304
Type 304 of stainless steel is the most common type of stainless steel generally, and it’s referred to as “A2” by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It can be cleaned with warm water and a soft cloth, and grade 304 stainless steel won’t “wear away” under repetitive cleanings. In fact, the more often you clean this type of stainless steel, the better. Grade 304 stainless steel is a cost-effective option that’s resistant to corrosion and oxidation.

Note: Stainless steel grade 304 contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel, but no molybdenum.

Stainless Steel Grade 316
Type 316 of stainless steel is the second most common type of stainless steel generally, and it’s referred to as “A4” by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The alloy for 316 stainless steel includes molybdenum, which prevents specific types of corrosion and the typical pitting that can be caused by industrial solvents and cleaners. Unlike 304 stainless steel, 316 stainless steel specifically resists chloride corrosion and can stand up to harsh chemicals. Grade 316 stainless steel is a high-quality option that provides superior corrosion resistance and is resistant to chlorine.

Note: Stainless steel grade 316 contains 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2% molybdenum.

Stainless Steel Grade 430
Type 430 stainless steel is less expensive than 304 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel, but it’s also less resistant to corrosion. If you have a “dry” area in your lab, furniture and equipment made out of 430 stainless steel can be a cost-effective option. But it’s important to understand that this grade of stainless steel won’t stand up to rigorous cleanings or conform with strict sterilization standards. Also, it’s likely to fracture in sub-zero temperatures.

Note: Stainless steel grade 430 contains 17% chromium, but no nickel or molybdenum.

If you have questions about which grade of stainless steel would work best for your applications and environment, please contact us at (303) 752-0056 or

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We have 316 stainless steel tables (all welded construction, in custom sizes) that are ideal for pharmaceutical manufacturing, cleanrooms, labs, and other sterile environments.