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topic 28871

Hardening 304 stainless steel

A discussion started in 2004 & continuing through 2017


Q. I have a local college that wants to harden stainless steel cutters made of 304 stainless, and I would like to know if you have a procedure for this.

David M. Brower
machine shop - Columbus, Ohio


A. 300 series of stainless steels are known as austenitic grades not hardenable by heat treatment. Some hardening can be obtained by mechanical work.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

simultaneous (2004)

A. 304 is an austenitic stainless steel. You can't through-harden it. You might be able to nitride it, but this will probably create more problems than it is worth; nitriding would reduce the corrosion resistance.

Steve Bizub
- St Louis, Missouri


A. Austenitic stainless steels are capable of some surface hardening, but not through-hardening treatments like quench & temper. Bodycote has a process called Kolsterising that diffuses carbon & nitrogen into the surface for increased hardness, wear resistance, etc. I recommend you contact them for more information.

Toby Padfield
Automotive module supplier - Michigan


A. You may get a case hardened layer with a nitriding process but the corrosion resistance of the austenitic grades as 304 will suffer. Maybe you should have to try a martensitic grade such as SAE 431 with lower corrosion resistance but hardenable.

Jose Roa
Heat Treatment - Lima, Perú

(2004) -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Can ASTM 304L be heat treated after welding.

Usman Hamid
student - Islamabad, Punjab, Pakistan

December 28, 2011

A. Hi, Usman.

We appended your inquiry to a thread which hopefully answers it for you.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Try coating it with either titanium nitride (TiN), chromium nitride or boron nitride. All are vacuum techniques and offer very hard surface treatments. TiN also offers a pleasing gold colour. Typical hardnesses for TiN are about 2,500Hv.

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK


A. If your cutters are thin, nitriding is the best method. We have done this before with successfully getting 65 Rc hardness up to about 0.3 mm depth. It doesn't much corrode also.

Rajesh Chandavale
- Pune, Maharashtra, India

September 17, 2017

Q. I have blow needle made out of stainless steel 304. In one operation they are getting bent as they are in 1/8" Dia outside .062" inside hole. Can we harden it?

Amarjit jajwan
Dieco-tech mfg - Brampton ,Ontario,canada

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