Near-α titanium alloys are known to be susceptible to cold dwell fatigue (CDF) debit, which has been linked to the occurrence of cold creep during high-load dwell times superimposed onto low cycle fatigue loading. In order to shed new light on the deformation mechanisms during cold dwell and to understand better the role of the microstructure, two different bimodal microstructures (fine and coarse transformation product) of TIMETAL®834 were investigated at stress levels below the 0.2% proof stress using a combination of grain orientation mapping and in-situ electron microscopy imaging. This enabled in-depth analysis of 2D slip patterns and slip system activity using High-Resolution Digital Image Correlation (HRDIC), showing that in both microstructures basal slip is initially the dominant slip mode before prismatic slip activity increases approaching the 0.2% proof stress. Comparing the two constituents in the bimodal microstructure, first slip bands are localised predominantly in primary α grains, indicating higher strength of secondary α colonies, particularly for finer transformation products. During 10-minute load holds at stresses below 0.2% proof stress, more plastic strain and longer connected slip traces across several grains were observed in the sample with coarse transformation product, indicating higher susceptibility to cold creep deformation. Full-field crystal deformation modelling was utilised to determine local stresses in individual grains at the onset of plasticity and test the hypothesis that the dominance of basal slip at low-stress levels can be explained by the elastic anisotropy in Ti alloys. However, while consideration of elastic anisotropy
increased resolved shear stress (RSS) values for basal slip relative to prismatic slip, it did not unambiguously explain the early activation of basal slip. Furthermore, thermal residual stresses at the crystal level, due to the anisotropy of coefficients of thermal expansion (CTE), were included in the simulation, which created a wider spread of the RSS data but did not preferentially promote high RSS values for grains well aligned for basal slip. In the absence of an unambiguous conclusion, it is hypothesised that basal slip might display lower critical resolved shear stress values than typically reported but high work hardening rates compared to prismatic slip.