A computationally efficient 2D model for inherently equilibrated 3D stress predictions in heterogeneous laminated plates. Part II: Model validation

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The higher-order, equivalent single-layer model developed in Part I is applied to the stretching and bending of exemplar multilayered flat plates, where the results are compared with different 3D models, and trends and insights are subsequently drawn. The present mixed displacement/stress-based model is derived from inherently equilibrated 3D stress fields that satisfy the interlaminar and surface traction equilibrium conditions. A new set of governing equations is derived from a contracted Hellinger–Reissner functional that only enforces the classical membrane and bending equations via Lagrange multipliers. Combined with the fact that the same set of stress resultants is used for all stress fields, the number of unknown variables of the theory reduces, while maintaining sufficient fidelity to capture higher-order transverse shearing and zig-zag effects. A wide range of stacking sequences are considered ranging from orthotropic straight-fibre laminates to sandwich panels with variable-stiffness face sheets, i.e. composite plies in which the reinforcing fibres describe curvilinear paths. Hence, the model is used to study laminated plates with 3D heterogeneity, that is laminates comprising layers with material properties that can differ by multiple orders of magnitude and that vary continuously in-plane. The governing equations are solved both analytically using trigonometric expansions and numerically using the pseudo-spectral differential quadrature method. The 3D stress fields predictions correlate closely with 3D elasticity and 3D finite element solutions and are accurate to within a few percent for thick plates with characteristic length to thickness ratios as small as 5:1. In fact, the results suggest that 3D stress fields from our model satisfy Cauchy’s 3D equilibrium equations more accurately, and at a three-order degree of freedom reduction in computational cost, compared to high-fidelity 3D FEM models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-217
Number of pages32
JournalComposite Structures
Early online date17 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2016


  • Hellinger–Reissner mixed-variational principle
  • Variable-stiffness laminated plates
  • Transverse shear deformation
  • Zig-zag effects


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