In structural analysis, many components are approximated as plates. More often that not, classical plate theories, such as Kirchhoff or Reissner-Mindlin plate theories, form the basis of the analytical developments. The advantage of these approaches is that they leads to simple kinematic descriptions of the problem: the plate’s normal material line is assumed to remain straight and its displacement field is fully defined by three displacement and two rotation components. While such approach is capable of capturing the kinetic energy of the system accurately, it cannot represent the strain energy adequately. For instance, it is well known from three-dimensional elasticity theory that the normal material line will warp under load for laminated composite plates, leading to three-dimensional deformations that generate complex stress states. To overcome this problem, several high-order, refined plate theories have been proposed. While these approaches work well for some cases, they often lead to inefficient formulations because they introduce numerous additional variables. This paper presents a different approach to the problem: based on a finite element semi-discretization of the normal material line, plate equations are derived from three-dimensional elasticity using a rigorous dimensional reduction procedure.

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