304 Stainless Steel Tube - Small Diameter
Out of the dozens of different stainless steels in production, one of the most popular and versatile stainless steel tubing alloys utilized is 304 Stainless Steel. Under different naming designations it is also known as DIN 1.4301 or UNS S30400, or simply 18-8 stainless steel. If some of these names sound familiar, it is because 304 stainless is used in countless applications beyond tubing alone. From precision machined products used in critical medical applications to cookware in your home kitchen stamped “18-8” next to the country of manufacture, 304 stainless steel is everywhere in daily life.
The time-tested capabilities of 304 stainless steel in is one of the driving factors behind its popularity as an alloy of choice for hypo tube or small diameter tubing products. It has good oxidation and corrosion resistance and can be easily and readily cold worked to increase tensile strength on tubing. Raw material availability—whether in strip form for welded and drawn products, or forged bar for seamless products ---is excellent. Smelters and re-processors throughout the global supply chain have ready access to various vendors capable of supplying high quality 304 stainless for manufacturing tubing. Vita Needle utilizes qualified raw material providers capable of consistently delivering 304 stainless with uniform chemistry and tightly controlled dimensional/mechanical attributes that yield the highest quality tubing.
Austenitic in nature at a microstructure level---delivering better corrosion resistant properties than martensitic stainless steel---304 stainless tube is frequently cold worked to achieve highest strength values because heat treatment (annealing) softens this alloy. It cannot be hardened by heat treatment, only by cold work. A key characteristic of 304 stainless that sets it apart from alternative alloys is the corrosion resistance generated by chromium and nickel content in the alloy. These elements are primarily responsible for generating an invisible protective boundary layer on the tube surface which resists oxidation. This layer will normally self-repair under typical conditions which is a significant and important feature of this grade of stainless steel. 304 is also available in a low carbon variant (304 L) which is normally used to improve the quality of welded joints when joining components together. Widely available fabrication methods such as turning/milling/grinding (traditional and CNC) work well with 304 stainless steel tubing, as well as electrochemical, electrical discharge machining or laser machining.
Industries & Applications:
Broad market utilization and confidence in 304 stainless steel tubing over decades of deployment gives this alloy a reputation for being reliable and cost effective for many applications. Popular tubing applications for this grade of stainless steel include but are not limited to the following.
- Hypodermic / hypo tube needle and surgical applications for nearly all surgical specialties
- Medical irrigation or suction devices
- Pull rings, spacers, or crimp tubes
- Mandrels for production of balloon catheters
- Robotics applications and pressure/temperature sensors
- Specialty instrumentation and industrial controls
- Gas and oil extraction and chemical handling
- Industrial fluid /gas delivery or extraction products
- Food/Beverage fluid delivery or extraction products
- Laboratory research