This paper is intended to be a general introduction to this conference and is therefore not a review of the state of our current knowledge. Instead, it will address questions like the following: Why are intermetallic compounds interesting? What alloys are being studied, and which are being ignored? Since most research work is now being performed on L12 alloys, with by far the greatest emphasis on Ni3Al, the balanceof the paper will concentrate on strengthening mechanisms and mechanisms of ductility control in Ni3Al, pointing out the interesting questions and controversies which arose during this conference.
The conclusions to be drawn from this paper are that ordered intermetallic alloys are very valuable materials for high temperature use, but engineers probably must become more sophisticated in the use of materials with limited ductilities at low temperatures before intermetallics will gain widespread usage. Furthermore, additional research needs to be performed on more complex intermetallic compounds than L12 since L12 compounds, as a group, do not have particularly high melting temperatures. However,since alloys with complex structures, e.g. Laves phases, are well known for their brittleness at low temperatures, it is all the more important that the properties of such alloys be studied and methods found to improve their ductilities.