Many high strength alloys that are developed for arduous operating conditions have essentially a two-phase microstructure that is produced by a precipitation-hardening procedure. However, alloys that are heat-treated to have maximum hardness, often have poor monotonic and poor fatigue fracture characteristics when these are assessed in relation to their high yield strengths, and this imposes limits to their use for service applications. Experimental investigations covering a wide range of precipitation-hardened alloys have shown that the inferior fracture properties are due to plastic deformation being concentrated within narrow zones. Against this background, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft is undertaking a comprehensive theoretical investigation based on the representation of flow concentration by appropriate theoretical models. The general objective is to provide a quantitative understanding of flow concentration, both with respect to its causes and consequences, in terms of both material and externally imposed parameters such as, for example, the state of loading. The aim of the present paper is not to survey the complete problem of flow concentration in the light of the research undertaken to date, but to provide a limited number of examples that illustrate how specific aspects of the problem have been considered using appropriate models to describe the operative physical processes. With the Conference’s objectives in mind, the paper’s general intention is therefore to provide further evidence that micromechanical modeling can be successfully used to relate mechanical behavior with metallurgical parameters, and thereby add further support for the view that such work forms an integral part of any balanced materials research and development program.

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