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Current consensus suggests a trade-off for predicting accurate 3D stress fields in multilayered plates. Relatively expensive layerwise models facilitate accurate stress predictions from underlying model assumptions, whereas more efficient equivalent single-layer theories often rely on variationally inconsistent transverse stresses from recovery steps. In contrast, we show that variationally consistent 3D stress fields are predicted from an equivalent single-layer model using a contracted form of the Hellinger-Reissner functional. Notably, this procedure facilitates computationally efficient analysis of 3D heterogeneous plates, i.e. laminates comprising layers with material properties that differ by multiple orders of magnitude and that can also vary continuously in-plane. The model includes effects of higher-order transverse shearing and zig-zag deformations by expressing the in-plane stress field as a Taylor series expansion of global and local higher-order stress resultants. Equilibrated transverse stress assumptions are derived from Cauchy's 3D equilibrium equations, which identically satisfy the interfacial and surface traction equilibrium conditions when applied within a variational statement that enforces the 3D equilibrium equations as constraints, hence the Hellinger-Reissner mixed-variational statement. By using inherently equilibrated stress fields as model assumptions, it is shown that only the classical membrane and bending equilibrium equations have to be enforced explicitly. As a result, a contracted Hellinger-Reissner functional emerges that requires fewer displacement Lagrange multipliers than when independent stress fields are assumed. The governing equations are derived in a generalised framework such that the order of the model, and hence its accuracy, increases automatically when implemented in a computer code. By refining the order of the stress assumptions, the model is adaptable to plate-like structures ranging from thin engineering laminates to highly heterogeneous, thick laminates comprising straight-fibre or tow-steered variable-stiffness laminates, foam, honeycomb or other compliant layers.
- Hellinger-Reissner mixed-variational principle
- Laminated variable-stiffness plates
- Transverse shear deformation
- Zig-zag effects