In order to improve the accuracy of the in-plane response of the shear, deformable laminated composite plate theory, a new laminated plate theory has been developed based upon a new variational principle proposed by Reissner (1984). The improvement is achieved by including a zigzag-shaped C0 function to approximate the thickness variation of in-plane displacements. The accuracy of this theory is examined by applying it to a problem of cylindrical bending of laminated plates which has been solved exactly by Pagano (1969). The comparison of the in-plane response with the exact solutions for symmetric three-ply and five-ply layers has demonstrated that the new theory predicts the in-plane response very accurately even for small span-to-depth ratios.

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