Ronnie Brown

By: Ronnie Brown on August 25th, 2023

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316 vs 904 Stainless Steel: Which Is Best for Chromatography?




Selecting a suitable alloy to fabricate your woven wire chromatography filter plates plays an integral role in the efficiency, reliability, and overall performance of your separation process. While 300 series stainless steel alloys are predominantly used to weave woven wire mesh, it is essential to understand that other stainless steel variants are available to accommodate more specialized applications.

904 stainless steel, for example, is known for having an exceptional list of qualities that help it perform under the harshest of conditions. Having said that, how does a more common 300 series stainless steel, such as 316 stainless steel, compare to 904 stainless steel?

With over 150 years of woven wire experience, W.S. Tyler truly believes that understanding how the two differ will better equip you to make the informed decisions needed to implement an efficient chromatography operation.

For that reason, the following article was written to provide insight into what woven wire alloy you should be using to construct your next chromatography filter plate. It will cover:

  • What 316 stainless steel is
  • The beneficial qualities offered by 316 stainless steel
  • What 904 stainless steel is
  • The beneficial qualities offered by 904 stainless steel
  • The key differences between 316 and 904 stainless steel
  • Which alloy makes sense for you



What Is 316 Stainless Steel?

316 stainless steel is a popular woven wire alloy that stands as one of the more widely used 300 series stainless steel alloys. It is made up of 16% chromium, 8% nickel, 2% molybdenum, and >1% carbon.

Having less than 1% carbon places 316 in the low-carbon alloy category. The resulting effect of having minimal carbon is a reduced amount of carbide precipitation.


What Are the Benefits of 316 Stainless Steel?

As it does not occur naturally, molybdenum is added to 316 stainless steel when in its molten stage. This bonds the molybdenum on a molecular level.

The resulting effect is a stabilized stainless steel alloy that has an increased resistance to corrosion.

This resistance to corrosion is further enhanced due to the lack of carbon in the alloy. This makes 316 stainless steel suitable for heavy exposure to moisture.

NOTE: The more carbon in an alloy, the more susceptible the woven wire is to rust.


What Is 904 Stainless Steel?

904 stainless steel is an austenitic stainless steel alloy that is widely used for demanding applications in which more standard stainless steel alloys fail. It is made up of Iron 45-47%, Chromium 19-23%, Nickel 23-28%, Molybdenum 4-5%, Manganese 2%, Silicon 1%, Phosphorus .045%, sulfur .035%, carbon .020%.

Much like 316 stainless steel, 904 is classified as a low-carbon alloy.


What Are the Benefits of 904 Stainless Steel?

The inclusion of molybdenum stabilizes the alloy, making it extremely resistant to corrosion. 904 has particularly exceptional resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion.

In addition to its high resistance to corrosion, 904 is known for its incredible strength and durability. These qualities work together to enable the alloy to deal with the mechanical stress and pressure loads associated with critical applications.

This strength and durability ultimately translate to woven wire with a long lifespan.

It should also be noted that 904 stainless steel delivers favorable heat resistance. Again, this makes the material ideal for more demanding woven wire applications.

The  Woven Wire in Chromatography Maintenance Guide

How Do 316 and 904 Stainless Steel Woven Wire Mesh Compare When Applied as Chromatography Filter Plates?

While both solutions can be used to fabricate reliable woven wire chromatography filter plates, it is critical to understand how 316 and 904 stainless steel compare. That said, the key differences that will make or break performance are corrosion resistance, chloride resistance, alloy strength, and cost.


Corrosion Resistance

316 stainless steel is known for its exceptional resistance to corrosion, even in harsh environments. It can withstand most of the chemical and acid exposure associated with the chromatography process.

That said, 904 is known to provide superior resistance. It is often used in place of other stainless steel alloys in the harshest environments, especially if the woven wire is subjected to sulfuric acid.


Chloride Ressostance

As stated above, both 316 and 904 stainless steel are low-carbon alloys. This means they both display higher resistance to corrosion when compared to high-carbon alloys.

Knowing this, it should be noted that 316 can be vulnerable to chloride pitting and crevice corrosion. 904 offers vastly superior resistance to chloride corrosion.



316 is an inherently strong woven wire alloy that can be applied to virtually any general application. 904 delivers superior strength that allows it to withstand demanding applications that place an increased amount of mechanical stress on the mesh without deforming.



As 316 stainless steel is considered a standard woven wire alloy, 904 has a heftier price tag than 316.



To gain a better understanding of how much a woven wire chromatography filter costs, read the article below:



316 vs. 904 Stainless Steel: Which Should I Use for My Chromatography Filter Plates?

As with any woven wire application, the alloy you should use is solely dependent on the needs of the application. The parameters of the chromatography process, usage conditions, and industry standards should all be considered when making a decision.

With that, if your operation is relatively mild and you must adhere to budget constraints, 316 may be a more suitable choice. Now, if your woven wire filter plates will be subjected to highly corrosive or chloride-rich situations and have the budget to accommodate the higher price tag, 904 will most likely offer more efficient results.


Perfect Your Chromatography Process With Edged Woven Wire

316 and 904 stainless steel are both woven wire alloys that are often used to fabricate reliable filter plates for chromatography. While 316 is suitable to handle virtually any general chromatography process, 904 provides better performance characteristics and is often used for more extreme applications.

Once you pinpoint the alloy that can accommodate your woven wire needs, the next steps are to look into how your woven wire filter plate is fabricated. Understanding and applying techniques, such as edging your woven wire, is key to unlocking the true potential of your mesh.

W.S. Tyler has proudly helped customers like you weave woven wire into their operations for over 150 years. We strive to learn each woven wire application inside and out to ensure you achieve peak performance so you reallocate your time towards other elements of your process.

For more information about edged woven wire and how it can be beneficial to your process, read the article below:

About Ronnie Brown

Ronnie is the Content Writer for W.S. Tyler and has four years of experience as a professional writer. He strives to expand his knowledge on all things particle analysis and woven wire mesh to leverage his exceptional writing and graphic design skills, creating a one-of-a-kind experience for customers.