In flexible multibody systems, many components are often approximated as plates. More often that not, classical plate theories, such as Kirchhoff or Reissner-Mindlin plate theory, form the basis of the analytical development for plate dynamics. The advantage of this approach is that it leads to a very simple kinematic representation 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 a three-dimensional deformation state that generates a complex stress state. To overcome this problem, several high-order and refined plate theory were proposed. While these approaches work well for some cases, they typically lead to inefficient formulation because they introduce numerous additional variables. This paper presents a different approach to the problem, which is based on a finite element discretization of the normal material line, and relies of the Hamiltonian formalism of obtain solutions of the governing equations. Polynomial solutions, also known as central solutions, are obtained that propagate over the entire span of the plate.

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