17-4 vs 416 Stainless Steel – What’s the Difference

17-4 vs 416 Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is an incredibly versatile material from jewellery to aerospace engineering. For many applications, the choice of stainless steel alloy can be the difference between success and failure. When choosing between stainless steel 17-4 and 416, you may wonder what the difference is and which is best for your needs. This article will explore the key differences between these two popular stainless steel alloys and help you make an informed decision.

Difference Between 17-4 and 416 Stainless Steel

Composition and Properties

The composition of these two alloys is one of their key differences. 17-4 is a precipitation-hardened stainless steel that contains 17% chromium, 4% nickel, and 4% copper, while 416 is a free-machining steel containing sulfur, phosphorus, and 12% chromium. 17-4 is a versatile, heat-treatable alloy with high strength, corrosion resistance, and excellent mechanical properties. 416 is an easy-to-machine alloy with moderate strength and corrosion resistance but is prone to galling.


Both 17-4 and 416 have a range of different applications. 17-4 is often used in the aerospace, nuclear, and chemical processing industries due to its corrosion resistance and high strength. It is also used to produce certain medical instruments, including orthopaedic implants. Meanwhile, 416 is frequently used to manufacture screws, bolts, and valves. It is also used in pump and motor shafts and numerous applications where easy machining is essential.


Machinability is one of the key differences between 17-4 and 416 stainless steel alloys. 416 is an incredibly easy-to-machine alloy that produces good surface finishes and requires less cutting force. It is often used in high-speed machining applications for this reason. 17-4, on the other hand, is more difficult to machine and requires more cutting force. However, it is still machinable, and with the right tools and techniques, it can provide excellent results.

Corrosion Resistance

Both 17-4 and 416 stainless steel alloys have varying levels of corrosion resistance. 17-4 is highly corrosion resistant and can easily withstand harsh environments. 416, however, is much more prone to rust and staining and is not recommended for use in environments exposed to saltwater or other corrosive substances. With proper care, both alloys can last many years without significant degradation.


Regarding cost, 416 is typically less expensive than 17-4. This is due to the difference in the composition of the alloys and the complexity of the heat treatment required to produce 17-4. However, for high-performance applications, the cost difference may be outweighed by the superior qualities of 17-4.


In conclusion, while both 17-4 and 416 stainless steel alloys have their strengths and weaknesses, choosing between them largely depends on your project’s specific application and requirements. 17-4 is a versatile alloy with exceptional strength and corrosion resistance, but it can be more expensive and difficult to machine. 416, on the other hand, is a cost-effective and easy-to-machine alloy suitable for many applications. By understanding the differences between these two alloys, you can make an informed decision and choose the right one for your needs.



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