Inconel 600 vs 316 Stainless Steel: An In-Depth Comparison

When it comes to choosing the right material for a particular application, you need to consider various factors like cost, durability, and performance under specific conditions. This article delves into the essential elements and properties of Inconel 600 and 316 stainless steel, two widely used materials in industrial and commercial projects.

Understanding the Basics

What is Inconel 600?

Inconel 600 is a unique nickel-chromium-iron alloy known for its remarkable oxidation resistance at high temperatures, as well as its strength and corrosion resistance in both acidic and basic environments. It can withstand temperatures up to 2000° F (1093° C), which makes it the material of choice for applications such as furnaces, exhaust systems, and turbines.

What is 316 Stainless Steel?

On the other hand, 316 stainless steel is an alloy composed mainly of chromium-nickel-molybdenum. It has superior corrosion resistance compared to other steels due to an extremely thin layer of chromium oxide on the surface. It also has increased strength due to the addition of molybdenum. However, its maximum operable temperature is lower, topping out at 1500° F (816° C).

Heat Resistance Comparison

When it comes to heat resistance, Inconel 600 outperforms 316 stainless steel. Its robust structure allows it to maintain its integrity even in extreme heat conditions. In contrast, 316 stainless steel’s heat resistance limit is lower, making it unsuitable for high-temperature applications.

Corrosion Resistance Comparison

While both materials offer good corrosion resistance, they each perform better in certain environments. Inconel 600 excels in acidic environments, like those found near saltwater or areas with high sulfur dioxide emissions. On the other hand, 316 stainless steel performs better in basic or alkaline environments, such as those near chlorinated water or areas with high chlorine gas emissions.

Mechanical Properties

The mechanical properties of a material define its behavior under different physical conditions. Both Inconel 600 and 316 stainless steel exhibit unique strengths and weaknesses when it comes to tensile strength, yield strength, and hardness, among other mechanical properties.

Inconel 600, due to its nickel-chromium composition, possesses higher tensile strength, making it ideal for high-stress applications. Meanwhile, 316 stainless steel, with its austenitic microstructure, offers excellent ductility and corrosion resistance.

Cost Differences

The cost of these materials can significantly vary. Generally, Inconel 600 is more expensive due to its high nickel content and the complex process required for its production. On the other hand, 316 stainless steel is relatively less expensive, given its more straightforward production process and the abundance of its primary elements.


Inconel 600 finds its use in high-temperature and corrosive environments such as offshore oil rigs, chemical plants, and aerospace industries. Conversely, 316 stainless steel is commonly used in food processing equipment, marine hardware, and biomedical applications, where its superior performance in basic or alkaline environments is essential.


Inconel 600 tends to be more challenging to machine due to its hardness, requiring specific tools and cooling lubricants. On the other hand, 316 stainless steel is easier to machine, making it more cost-effective in terms of labor and tooling costs.

Composition and Equivalent Grades

Both Inconel 600 and 316 stainless steel have equivalent grades, which are materials with similar compositions and properties. Understanding these equivalent grades can assist in selecting a suitable substitute in case the primary material is unavailable.

Inconel 600 has equivalent grades such as Werkstoff Nr. 2.4816, UNS N06600, and AFNOR NC15FE11M. Similarly, 316 stainless steel has equivalent grades like Werkstoff Nr. 1.4401/1.4436 and UNS S31600.

Melting Point, Density, and Tensile Strength

The melting point, density, and tensile strength of a material play a crucial role in determining its suitability for specific applications. Inconel 600 has a higher melting point, density, and tensile strength compared to 316 stainless steel, making it an excellent choice for high-temperature and high-stress applications.


In conclusion, the decision between Inconel 600 and 316 stainless steel depends on the specific application and operational environment. Inconel 600 is ideal for high-temperature applications and corrosive environments, while 316 stainless steel is perfect for applications requiring superior corrosion resistance in basic or alkaline environments.

Table: Inconel 600 vs 316 Stainless Steel

PropertyInconel 600316 Stainless Steel
CompositionNickel-chromium-iron alloyChromium-nickel-molybdenum alloy
Heat ResistanceUp to 2000° F (1093° C)Up to 1500° F (816° C)
Corrosion ResistanceExcellent in acidic environmentsExcellent in basic or alkaline environments
CostMore expensiveLess expensive
ApplicationsHigh-temperature and corrosive environmentsBasic or alkaline environments
MachinabilityMore challengingEasier
Equivalent GradesWerkstoff Nr. 2.4816, UNS N06600, AFNOR NC15FE11MWerkstoff Nr. 1.4401/1.4436, UNS S31600
Melting Point, Density, Tensile StrengthHigherLower

By understanding these differences, you can make an informed decision based on your project’s specific requirements and constraints.

M.B.Metal India are one of the Leading Manufacturer,Exporter Importer & Suppliers Of Inconel Plates & Sheets, Duplex Steel Buttweld Fittings, Duplex Head Fasteners, Stainless Steel Products, Welded Pipe Fittings, Titanium Pipe Fittings, Duplex ERW Pipes, Nitronic Bars and Hastelloy Flanges,Wire Mesh in all shapes & sizes.


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