A Reissner–Mindlin theory for composite laminates without invoking ad hoc kinematic assumptions is constructed using the variational-asymptotic method. Instead of assuming a priori the distribution of three-dimensional displacements in terms of two-dimensional plate displacements as what is usually done in typical plate theories, an exact intrinsic formulation has been achieved by introducing unknown three-dimensional warping functions. Then the variational-asymptotic method is applied to systematically decouple the original three-dimensional problem into a one-dimensional through-the-thickness analysis and a two-dimensional plate analysis. The resulting theory is an equivalent single-layer Reissner–Mindlin theory with an excellent accuracy comparable to that of higher-order, layer-wise theories. The present work is extended from the previous theory developed by the writer and his co-workers with several sizable contributions: (a) six more constants (33 in total) are introduced to allow maximum freedom to transform the asymptotically correct energy into a Reissner–Mindlin model; (b) the semi-definite programming technique is used to seek the optimum Reissner–Mindlin model. Furthermore, it is proved the first time that the recovered three-dimensional quantities exactly satisfy the continuity conditions on the interface between different layers and traction boundary conditions on the bottom and top surfaces. It is also shown that two of the equilibrium equations of three-dimensional elasticity can be satisfied asymptotically, and the third one can be satisfied approximately so that the difference between the Reissner–Mindlin model and the second-order asymptotical model can be minimized. Numerical examples are presented to compare with the exact solution as well as the classical lamination theory and the first-order shear-deformation theory, demonstrating that the present theory has an excellent agreement with the exact solution.
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