A method for the solution of three-dimensional elasticity equations is presented and is applied to the problem of thick plates. Through this method three governing differential equations, the well-known biharmonic equation, a shear equation and a third governing equation, are deduced directly and systematically from Navier’s equations. It is then shown that the solution of the second fundamental equation (the shear equation) is in fact related to the shear deformation in the bending of plates, hence it may be appropriately called the shear solution and the equation the shear equation. Moreover, it is found that the solution of the third fundamental equation does not yield transverse shearing forces. Because of these results, a refined plate theory which takes into account the transverse shear deformation can now be explicitly established without employing assumptions. With the present theory three boundary conditions at each edge of the plate and all the fundamental equations of elasticity can be satisfied. As an illustrative example, the present theory is applied to the problem of torsion resulting in exactly the same solution as the Saint Venant’s solution of torsion, although the two approaches are appreciably different. The second example also illustrates that accurate solutions, as compared with exact solutions, can be obtained by means of the refined plate theory.

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