Is Stainless Steel Magnetic? It Depends.

Have you ever wondered why you can stick a magnet on one stainless steel fridge, but not another? They are both stainless steel, so why doesn’t it stick to both? Well, the answer is in the makeup of the steel. So, let’s see if stainless steel is magnetic.

Is Stainless Steel Magnetic? The Type of Stainless Plays a Role

Ferritic

There are different families of stainless steel and all have different physical properties. A less expensive stainless steel would be considered a ferritic steel. Ferritic stainless steels typically have better engineering properties than their counterpart, austenitic, but have reduced corrosion resistance due to lower nickel and chromium content. This makes ferritic stainless steel magnetic.

Ferritic steels provide an advantage in many applications in which thinner materials or reduced weight are required. They are also non-hardenable by heat treating.

Typical applications for ferritic stainless steels include automotive and truck exhaust systems, catalytic converters, agricultural spreaders, heat exchangers, kitchen equipment, and roofing just to name a few.

Ferritic metals are classified in the 400 series. At OFR Metals we commonly stock 409 stainless and 430 stainless steel products.

Austenitic

Austenitic stainless steels are the more common types of stainless. These grades have higher chromium and nickel content. The higher nickel content makes austenitic grades non-magnetic.

Austenitic steels are similarly non-hardenable by heat treating, but also have excellent formability and higher corrosion resistance.

These type of steels are commonly used for kitchen equipment, appliances, automotive trim, architectural applications, chemical equipment, pharmaceutical equipment, and much more.

Austenitic stainless steels are classified in the 200 and 300 series. At OFR Metals we commonly stock 201 stainless, 301 stainless, 304/304L stainless, and 316/316L stainless steel products.

So, the next time you are shopping for a refrigerator be sure to bring a magnet. Higher quality (and typically more expensive) stainless steel appliances will not hold your alphabet magnet set. But unless you plan on placing your fridge out in the elements, you will most likely get along just fine with a ferritic stainless steel appliance. It’s still stainless after all.

For more information about our stainless steel products, contact your local sales representative.

Stainless Steel 304 and 316: What’s the difference?

Stainless steel 304 and 316 are the most widely used types of stainless steel. It can be difficult to visually, and sometimes characteristically, tell the difference between the two types of steel. So, what is the difference?

The biggest difference in the types of steel is the presence of molybdenum in stainless 316. Molybdenum is a metallic element that resembles chromium and tungsten in most characteristics. It is especially used for the strengthening and hardening of steel. The most common make up of stainless 316 is 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2% molybdenum – whereas stainless 304 is typically 18% chromium and 8% nickel. The molybdenum is added to stainless 316 to help resist corrosion to chlorides.

Stainless 304 has excellent resistance to corrosion and rust, but may be susceptible to corrosion from chloride solutions. Stainless 316, however, is ideal for applications that will be exposed to marine, pharmaceutical, and chemical elements.

The infographic below explores more of the differences, and similarities, between the two types of stainless steel.

For more information on which type of stainless steel you should choose for your next project or application contact your local sales representative. You can also find more information on how stainless steel is made here.

Stainless Steel 304 and 316: What’s the Difference?

stainless 304 vs stainless 316

Aluminum Alloys 3003 and 5052: What’s the Difference?

Aluminum 3003 and aluminum 5052 are some of the most commonly used aluminum alloys. But it isn’t always easy to differentiate the two. So, what is the difference?

Aluminum 3003

Aluminum 3003 is the cheaper of the two, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t up to par for certain applications. It has moderate strength and good formability and workability. It is also corrosion resistant making it ideal for applications such as heat exchangers and roofing and siding. Its major alloying element is manganese which allows for the formation of grains that absorb impurities and prevent corrosion.

Aluminum 5052

If that also sounds like aluminum 5052 that is because both alloys obtain similar characteristics. However, the 5052 alloy has a higher strength and greater corrosion resistance (including to salt water). Its major alloying element is magnesium. Magnesium overcomes the corrosive effects of the iron present in the alloy. It also has better finishing characteristics than the 3003 alloy. These attributes make aluminum 5052 a great fit for food processing equipment and truck trailers as well as marine and aquatic features.

Because the difference isn’t always obvious with these two mill finish aluminum alloys, we have provided an infographic for easy reference.

If you have more questions about the difference in these two aluminum alloys contact your local sales representative. For more information on how aluminum is made read our blog post on the process: “Aluminum: How it is Made.”

Aluminum Alloys 3003 and Aluminum 5052: What’s the difference?

difference between aluminum alloys 3003 and 5052