What is the difference between 316 and 316L stainless steel?

The main difference is the level of carbon content

  • 316  has a 0.08% max carbon content
  • 316L has a 0.03% max carbon content.

Type 316L wire is softer than type 316.

Chemical compositions

The”L” in 316L refers to the extra low concentration of Carbon in the steel.

The reduction in carbon content helps to prevent an effect called “sensitization”, where carbon combines to chromium, reducing the chromium-free content.

This allows the steel to be welded without the formation of potentially weakening carbides.

Type 316L is low carbon with 0.03% maximum to prevent the loss of corrosion resistance caused by chromium carbide formation during welding. 316 is 0.08% carbon maximum.

Neither grade has a specified minimum carbon content.

The strength requirements for 316 are a little higher than for 316L.

Mechanical Properties

Minimum yield strength of type 316L (170 Mpa) is less than 316 (200 MPa).


Type 316/316L are grouped in Gr. A or B accordance to AWS D1.6 (depending on material specification).

Type 316/316L are grouped in Gr. 1 accordance to ASME section IX

Nguyen Duy Bien

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