Stainless steel is synonymous with strength, longevity and aesthetic appeal. From kitchen knives to electrical enclosures and beyond, stainless steel is a material that keeps our world and our tools cleaner, safer and more functional.
However, not all stainless steel is the same. You’ll find many different varieties of stainless steel in use today, and it can be challenging to remember which is which. But it’s important to do the research, because different types of stainless steel have substantially different properties that affect their suitability for various applications.
At Polycase, we use 304 stainless steel for our stainless steel NEMA and IP rated enclosures because it’s a high-performance type of stainless steel with many advantages. In this piece, we’ll talk about what those advantages are and what kind of performance you can expect from electrical enclosures made from 304 stainless steel.
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Like all steels, stainless steel is an alloy of iron, carbon and small amounts of other metals. However, stainless steel is different because its composition also includes a substantial amount of chromium.
The addition of chromium gives stainless steel its desirable properties, including its resistance to corrosion and its brilliant appearance. When normal steel comes into contact with a source of oxidation, such as water, the iron that’s present in the steel starts giving away its electrons, forming iron oxide—better known as rust. In contrast, the chromium in stainless steel helps create a protective layer that makes the steel much less reactive and helps protect it from corrosion.
Stainless steel comes in many different types that vary by composition. Carbon content, chromium content and the content of other metals like nickel and molybdenum set the different types of stainless steels apart and make them suitable for different functions.
304 stainless steel is one of the most popular types of stainless steel. It’s a member of the austenitic family of stainless steels, which means that 304 stainless also contains nickel in addition to chromium.
The defining features of 304 stainless steel are its inclusion of at least 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel, which is why it’s also known as 18/8 steel. This is a uniquely well-balanced combination that produces a number of desirable material qualities. Some of the positive qualities of 304 stainless steel include:
These characteristics allow 304 stainless steel to provide great performance while maintaining a reasonable cost. (Curious about how these characteristics stack up against the also-widely-used carbon steel? See our carbon steel vs. stainless steel comparison for a full rundown of the differences.)
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304 stainless steel is used in a huge variety of applications, including:
This range of applications makes 304 stainless steel one of the modern world’s most important materials. And when its properties are applied to electrical enclosures, the results are particularly impressive.
Polycase’s SA Series stainless steel electrical enclosures are much more than just a stainless steel box—they represent the gold standard for NEMA 4X stainless steel enclosures. These outdoor weatherproof enclosures are designed to take full advantage of every benefit that 304 stainless steel offers. For a start, they’re NEMA 4X-rated for corrosion resistance, making them an ideal choice for circumstances where corrosion resistance is important. (Not sure what NEMA 4X means? See our guide to NEMA enclosure ratings.)
Our SA Series 304 stainless steel enclosures also feature a watertight rubber gasket to provide outdoor-grade weather protection. To make them even easier to use, the SA Series also comes standard equipped with screw-on feet for quick surface mounting. SA Series stainless steel enclosure models are available in a wide range of enclosure sizes, from approximately 8 inches x 6 inches to a full-sized 24 inches x 24 inches.
Polycase SA-34 Stainless Steel NEMA 4X Enclosure
At Polycase, we’re always happy to answer questions about our high-performance enclosure materials. Just call us at 1-800-248-1233 or contact us online for more information. We’re here to guide you through the enclosure selection process and help you choose a model that fits your needs perfectly.