What is Austenitic Stainless Steel?

Legal Definition
300 Series austenitic stainless steel has austenite as its primary phase (face centered cubic crystal). These are alloys containing chromium and nickel, and sometimes molybdenum and nitrogen, structured around the Type 302 composition of iron, 18% chromium, and 8% nickel. 200 Series austenitic stainless steels replace the majority of their nickel content with manganese to reduce cost. Austenitic steels are not hardenable by heat treatment. The most familiar stainless steel is probably SAE 304 stainless steel, also called 18/8 or A2 stainless steel. Type 304 surgical stainless steel is an austenitic steel containing 18–20% chromium and 8–10% nickel.

Alloy 20 (Carpenter 20) is an austenitic stainless steel possessing excellent resistance to hot sulfuric acid and many other aggressive environments which would readily attack type 316 stainless. This alloy exhibits superior resistance to stress-corrosion cracking in boiling 20–40% sulfuric acid. Alloy 20 has excellent mechanical properties and the presence of niobium in the alloy minimizes the precipitation of carbides during welding.

Austenitic stainless steel can be tested by nondestructive testing using the dye penetrant inspection method but not the magnetic particle inspection method. Eddy-current testing may also be used. It is the primary stainless steel used in aviation construction. Chemical and steel industry-applicable grades are SAE steel grades 308, 308L, 316, 316L, 316LN (nitrogen bearing), 312, 309L, and 310L. "L" denotes a carbon percentage less than 0.03%, mostly used for corrosion heat resistance and reducing sensitivity to chromium carbide formation. Another grade, 312, is used for dissimilar steel welding, also known as universal alloy steel as unknown composition steels can be welded. For high temperature applications at greater than 600°C, grades 309 and 310 are preferred. Grade 316 is alloyed with molybdenum (~2–3%) for high-temperature strength, pitting and crevice corrosion resistance.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Anything with high levels of chromium and nickel. It is corrossion resistant, ductile, and weldable. It is the largest selling steel. It is used in heavy duty work. Refer to feritic stainless steels and martenstic stainless steel.