The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the fact that the routine application of Saint-Venant’s principle in the solution of elasticity problems involving highly anisotropic or composite materials is not justified in general. This is illustrated in the context of the plane problem of elasticity for an anisotropic rectangular strip loaded only on the short ends. For highly anisotropic transversely isotropic materials, the slow decay of end effects is demonstrated using a method involving self-equilibrating eigenfunctions. For a graphite/epoxy composite, for example, the characteristic decay length is shown to be approximately four times that for an isotropic material. The results have implications in the accurate measurement of mechanical properties of anisotropic materials.

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