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Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136

www.elsevier.com/locate/compstruct

Thermo-mechanics of undamaged and damaged multilayered


composite plates: a sub-laminates nite element approach
Marco Gherlone *, Marco Di Sciuva

Department of Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24, 10129 Torino, Italy
Available online 18 September 2006

Abstract
In this work a plate mixed nite element based on a rened zig-zag plate model is formulated for the analysis of multilayered composite plates subjected to thermal and mechanical loads. The zig-zag plate model is characterised by: (i) through-the-thickness cubic inplane displacements and linear transverse displacement, (ii) transverse shear stresses continuity, (iii) satisfaction of traction equilibrium
conditions on top and bottom faces of the laminate thus allowing for the presence of tangential distributed loads, (iv) the transverse
normal deformability is taken into account by means of a r33 supposed constant along the thickness and by the use of the complete constitutive equations of orthotropic materials, (v) use, as degrees of freedom of the model, of displacements and transverse shear stresses of
external faces of the laminate. In particular, this last property may be extended to the associated plate nite element that, having its nodal
degrees of freedom on the external faces, allows a through-the-thickness discretisation in some sub-domains called sub-laminates. Some
numerical results are presented in order to show that the use of more sub-laminates improves the capability of the approach to capture
with high accuracy the though-the-thickness distributions of transverse displacements, strains and stresses also for very thick plates.
 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Multilayered plates; Thermo-mechanics; Transverse deformability; Sub-laminates; Plate mixed nite element

1. Introduction
Multilayered composite plates and shells are extensively
used in the eld of aeronautical, civil and marine engineering due to their high specic stiness and strength. The
increasing use of composite components as primary structural parts of more complex structures leads to the adoption of very thick panels and beams; high thick-to-side
length ratios exacerbate some of the peculiar aspects of
multilayered composite structures [15]:
transverse anisotropy: remarkable variations in the
mechanical properties from layer to layer are, for example, typical of the more and more successful sandwich
structures; transverse anisotropy leads to a more complex interaction among the dierent deformation modes
*

Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 0115646817; fax: +39 0115646899.


E-mail addresses: marco.gherlone@polito.it (M. Gherlone), marco.
disciuva@polito.it (M. Di Sciuva).
1
Tel.: +39 0115646808; fax: +39 0115646899.
0263-8223/$ - see front matter  2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.compstruct.2006.08.004

(membrane, exing, shear) of a composite structure and


gives to the strain and stress states a more evident 3D
nature;
high transverse deformability: typical composite materials (bre reinforced plastics) exhibit shear moduli-toin-plane moduli ratios that are lower than those of
isotropic materials, thus, also for thin structures, the
transverse shear deformability may be remarkable; also
transverse normal deformability may be not negligible
when thick laminates are considered;
damage sensibility: composite structures may experience
damage as a consequence of operating conditions or
manufacturing operations; in any case, due to the discontinuous nature of a multilayered structure, the damage occurrence probability and the eects of damages on
the load carrying capabilities of composite structures are
issues of main importance;
load carrying capacity under environmental constraints:
bre reinforced plastics are particularly sensitive to the
action of temperature variations, moisture, radiations;

126

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136

Nomenclature
a, b, h in-plane dimensions and thickness of the plate
L
common value of the sides for a square plate
N
number of orthotropic layers
n
number of sub-laminates
(k)
h
thickness of the kth layer
(k)  (k) +
z , z thickness coordinates of the lower and upper
interfaces of the kth layer
V
volume of the plate
X
reference surface of the plate
S
lateral surface of the plate
C
boundary curve of the plate
xi (i = 1, 2, 3) Cartesian orthogonal coordinates
xa (a = 1, 2) in-plane orthogonal coordinates
x3
thickness coordinate
Vi
displacement eld
eij (ca3) strain tensor (transverse shear components)
rij (sa3) stress tensor (transverse shear components)
r
sa
rth term in the Taylor expansion of the smeared
contribution to the displacement eld
(k)
/a
intensity of the zig-zag contribution to the displacement eld in the kth layer
(k)
Sa
intensity of the in-plane displacement jump at
the interface between the kth and the (k + 1)th
layer
(k)
Tab sliding constants at the interface between the kth
and the (k + 1)th layer
Ei (i = 1, 2, 3) Young moduli of the material
Gij
shear moduli of the material
mij
Poisson coecients of the material
ai (i = 1, 2, 3) thermal expansion coecients of the material
q
density of the material
Qabvw in-plane reduced transformed stiness coecients
Qa3v3 transverse shear transformed stiness coecients
S33, Rab transverse normal and coupling terms of the
constitutive equations
xab,k33 thermo-mechanical terms of the constitutive
equations
H
temperature variation with respect to the reference value

enthalpy
strain energy
tangential loads distributed on bottom and top
faces
q0 ; qh transverse loads distributed on bottom and top
faces
ri i 1; 2; 3 distributed loads applied to the lateral
cylindrical surface
H iab ; Clab i 1; . . . ; 4 l 0; h through-the-thickness
cubic Hermitian shape functions
L1, L2 through-the-thickness linear Lagrange polynomial
S 0a ; S ha in-plane displacements of the bottom and top
faces
w0, wh transverse displacement of the bottom and top
faces
s0a3 ; sha3 transverse shear stresses of the bottom and top
faces
u0i ; uhi i 1; . . . ; 8 degrees of freedom of the bottom
and top faces for in-plane displacement V1
v0i ; vhi i 1; . . . ; 8 degrees of freedom of the bottom
and top faces for in-plane displacement V2
w0i ; w0;xi ; w0;yi ; whi ; wh;xi ; wh;yi i 1; . . . ; 4 degrees of freedom of the bottom and top faces for transverse
displacement V3 and bending rotations
s0xzi ; shxzi i 1; . . . ; 8 degrees of freedom of the bottom
and top faces for transverse shear stresses s13
s0yzi ; shyzi i 1; . . . ; 8 degrees of freedom of the bottom
and top faces for transverse shear stresses s23
Pi (i = 1, . . . , 8) parabolic 2D shape functions (serendipity)
Hi, Hxi, Hyi (i = 1, . . . , 4) cubic 2D shape functions (Hermite)
[M], [K] mass and stiness matrix of the plate nite element
{FM}, {FH} nodal forces (mechanical and thermal contributions) of the plate nite element
{q}
degrees of freedom of the plate nite element
{h}
nodal values of the temperature for the plate nite element

in particular, due to the fact that the thermal expansion


coecient of the matrix is greater than that of bres,
when temperature variations are present, high values
of transverse stresses may appear at the interfaces
between dierent layers thus causing the risk of delaminations [5].

1. multilayered laminates exhibit the so-called zig-zag


eect (exacerbated for thick laminates), i.e. in-plane
displacements have 1st derivatives (with respect to the
thickness coordinate) that are discontinuous at the interfaces between layers with dierent mechanical
properties;
2. damage in composites may be of several types; the more
typical one is the delamination, i.e. a jump of in-plane
displacements at a particular interface where the adhesive lm is not working correctly (if opening of delami-

As a consequence, models for the analysis of multilayered composite structures should account for the following
capabilities:

H
/
p0a ; pha

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136

nation is possible, also transverse displacement may be


discontinuous); in any case, damage modelling implies
a more complicated through-the-thickness distribution
of displacements eld;
3. transverse stresses must be through-the-thickness continuous and their values on top and bottom faces must
be equal to the applied distributed tangential and transverse loads;
4. thermal eects must be evaluated at least as prescribed
temperatures giving equivalent thermal loads.
There are essentially two approaches for modelling composite structures: (i) models that have only displacements as
primary unknowns and (ii) mixed models with displacements and stresses (mainly transverse ones) as unknowns
[6]. Moreover, depending on the assumed distribution along
the thickness for the primary unknowns, we may have [4]:
(a) equivalent single layer (ESL) theories (the a priori supposed behaviour for the unknowns is based on the whole
thickness of the laminate), (b) layerwise (LW) theories (the
distribution of the unknowns is assumed layer per layer).
Examples of ESL models based on displacements (i)(a)
are the classical lamination theories (CLPT [7], FSDT [8],
HSDT [9]). They are easy to implement and give good
results in term of global structure responses (displacements,
frequencies, critical loads) for thin plates and beams with a
reduced transverse anisotropy; they are, in a general case,
not able to assess points 13. LW mixed models (ii)(b)
are suitable to satisfy conditions 13; their main drawback
is the computational complexity, also due to the fact that
the number of unknowns depends on the number of layers.
From this point of view, LW theories based on displacements (i)(b) are interesting; for some of them the number
of unknowns increases with the number of layers [10,11],
for some others (zig-zag models by Di Sciuva [1215]) the
number of degrees of freedom does not change and is equal
to that of ESL classical theories. These latter theories are
able to assess point 1, point 2 (at least for not severe delaminations) and point 3 (only for transverse shear stresses
vanishing on top and bottom faces), thus they are a good
compromise between computational simplicity and accuracy. In this work we will present an improved version of
the classical zig-zag models able to increase the modelling
capabilities of the original ones.
The rst aspect for which these have to get better is transverse normal deformability. As is well known, the transverse
stresses in general and the normal one in particular, may be
calculated in three ways: using theories in which these stresses are primary unknowns (a priori evaluation) or adopting an a posteriori strategy, computing them by means of
the constitutive equations or integrating the indenite equilibrium equations. The last approach is, in most cases, the
more accurate but in some others is not able to recover the
correct stress on the external faces; the use of the constitutive
equations could be the necessary way if we are using a displacements-based theory as the zig-zag one is. The problem
with this approach is that results may be inaccurate when

127

applied in the straightforward manner [16,17], i.e. deriving


strains from displacements and then stresses from strains
thus obtaining a discontinuous transverse normal stress. A
better way could be that of using mixed constitutive equations, i.e. the complete material constitutive equations but
with transverse normal stress as an input and the corresponding strain as an output; transverse normal stress is supposed to have a known through-the-thickness distribution
whose intensity is calculated in such a way that the two existing transverse normal strains (that obtained by the mixed
constitutive relations and that obtained dierentiating the
transverse displacement) are least squares compatible.
Aitharaju and Averill [18] proposes a constant r33 while
Tessler suggests [19] a cubic one. As a matter of fact, this
strategy is very similar to that adopted in a mixed theory in
which the transverse normal stress is an unknown; the dierence is that the compatibility condition, imposed a priori,
relates the stress unknown to the displacements ones so that
the theory is based only on the latter ones.
Moreover, for some applications in which tangential distributed loads act on the top and bottom faces of the laminate, transverse shear stresses should assume on them the
value of the external loads [20].
The Hermitian zig-zag plate model (HZZ) [21,22] is a
renement of the zig-zag plate models pioneered by Di Sciuva [1215], being able to assess also transverse normal
deformability (considering a through-the-thickness linear
transverse displacement and following Averill and Tesslers
approaches for calculating r33 supposed to be constant
along the thickness) and traction equilibrium conditions
on top and bottom laminate faces (in case of external tangential applied loads).
The sub-laminates methodology, proposed among
others by Averill and Yip [20], may be coupled with
the HZZ model thus obtaining further modelling
improvements:
for very thick laminates or, in any case, for sandwich
panels, transverse displacements may exhibit a non-linear distribution;
the constant value of r33 may give an idea of the average value of the stress but can be in some cases
inaccurate;
for some applications (piezoelectric layers bonded on
the external faces of the laminate) it can be important
to model structures with discretely varying thickness;
original zig-zag models and also HZZ are able to
model only sliding-type defects and the intensity of this
damage must not be excessive in order to avoid the socalled slip-locking phenomenon [23]; thus, there is the
need for avoiding incorrect results and to model also
other kinds of damage (for example, opening mode
damages).
The key idea of the sub-laminates strategy [20,21,23] is to
divide the whole laminate thickness in some sub-domains
and to adopt for each of them a particular distribution of

128

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136

displacements and/or stresses. Thus we obtain an higherorder approximation without increasing the order of the
underlying theory but localising it in some reduced portions
of the thickness domain. In [21,23,24] the beam nite element based on the HZZ has been developed and applied
to the analysis of undamaged and damaged composite
beams subjected to mechanical loads, in [25,26] there is an
analysis of thermally loaded undamaged and damaged
beams and plates and in [27] the HZZ + sub-laminates
approach is assessed in several cases of undamaged and
damaged plates subjected to mechanical and thermal loads.
Icardi has also proposed a coupling between sub-laminates
strategy and zig-zag theories [28]; in this case the transverse
displacement is of the fourth-order and also the continuity
of the transverse normal stress may be respected.
The aim of this article is to present the formulation of the
plate nite element based on the HZZ model and on the sublaminate approach. The underlying theory is briey summarized and the case of thermal eects is also considered; then
the details of the nite element derivation are presented and
a discussion about the concept of sub-laminate is provided.
Some numerical results are nally shown in order to demonstrate the accuracy of the FEM model by means of comparisons with exact elasticity solutions; in particular, the eect
of increasing the number of sub-laminates is considered.

Fig. 1. Plate geometry and notations.

strain and stress vectors are dened as eij and rij, respectively; ca3 and sa3 are also used to indicate the two transverse shear components. The plate dimensions with
respect to the three axes are a, b and h; (k)h is the thickness
of the kth layer while (k)z+ and (k)z are the distances
between the upper and lower face of the kth layer and
the reference surface X (thus (1)z = 0 and (N)z+ = h).
2.2. Displacements, strains and stresses
The in-plane components of the displacement eld are
written as [22]
_

V a xb ; x3 ; t V a xb ; x3 ; t V a xb ; x3 ; t Ve a xb ; x3 ; t

2. The Hermitian zig-zag model

where

Before describing the plate nite element based on the


Hermitian zig-zag model, we briey recall its basic hypotheses and properties. For the whole set of detailed equations
and derivations, see Di Sciuva and Gherlone [22].

V a xb ; x3 ; t

2.1. Notations and geometrical denitions


The Cartesian indicial notation is adopted with Latin
indices ranging from 1 to 3 and Greek indices ranging from
1 to 2. The Einstenian notation (summation over repeated
indices) is also used. An overbar will denote prescribed
quantities, for example external loads f . Dierentiation
will be represented with a comma, i.e. f,s = of/os. Superscript
(k) on the left of any quantity means aliation to the kth
layer; superscript (r) on the right of any quantity identies
the rth element in a series expansion. Integration over the
whole thickness coordinate will be indicated by h  i.
Let us consider a multilayered composite plate built up
with N orthotropic layers with dierent physical and
mechanical properties (Fig. 1). V is the region occupied
by the plate, X the reference surface (coinciding with the
plate lower face), C its boundary curve and S is the lateral
cylindrical boundary surface of V. Moreover, Sp, Su and
Cp, Cu denote the two parts of S and C, where tractions
and displacements, respectively, are prescribed. A Cartesian orthogonal system of coordinates xj is used; xa denotes
the in-plane coordinates coinciding with the axes of the reference surface and x3 is the thickness coordinate. The corresponding displacements are indicated with Vj. The full

3
X

xr3 sr
a xb ; t

r0

is the classical Taylors series, continuous with respect to


the thickness coordinate, commonly used in the single-layer
or smeared laminate models;
k1
X
_
q
V a xb ; x3 ; t
/a xb ; tx3  q z
3
q1

is a term (here dened for the kth layer) with jumps in the
1st derivative with respect to x3; when enforcing the transverse shear stresses continuity, the (q)/a are determined;
k
X
q
Ve a xb ; x3 ; t
S a xb ; t
4
q1

gives the in-plane displacements jump across each interface


enabling interfacial imperfections of axial type to be incorporated (no opening mode damages with transverse displacement discontinuities can be modelled). A linear slip
law is adopted
q

S a xx ; t q T ab xx q sb3 xx ; q z ; t

(q)

where Tab P 0 are the sliding constants of the qth interface ((q)Tab = 0 means perfectly bonded layers while
(q)
Tab ! 1 means completely debonded layers thus leading
sa3 (xx,(q) z+) = 0).
The transverse displacement is supposed to be throughthe-thickness linear

to

(q)

V 3 xb ; x3 ; t L1 x3 w0 xb ; t L2 x3 w1 xb ; t

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136

where L1(x3) and L2(x3) are the two linear Lagrangian


polynomials.
For the strain eld, the small strains hypothesis is
adopted, thus giving
2eij V i;j V j;i

with cij 2eij

for i 6 j

rab Qabvw evw S 33 Rab r33  xab H


e33 S 33 Rab eab S 33 r33 S 33 k33 H

sa3 Qa3v3 cv3


The denitions of Qabvw, Rab, Qa3v3, S33, xab and k33 are
derived in Appendix A.
The virtual variation of the enthalpy H corresponds to
the virtual variation of the strain energy / due to the fact
that the temperature is imposed and known
dH d/ rab deab r33 de33 sa3 dca3

Using Eqs. (11)(13) we obtain


V a H 1ab S 0a  H 2ab w0;b H 3ab S ha  H 4ab wh;b C0ab s0b3 Chab shb3
V 3 L1 w0 L2 wh

The constitutive relations are those of linear elastic and


orthotropic materials; a mixed form [22] of the stress-strain
relationship is used, with the thermal eect included (H is
the temperature variation with respect to a reference
value):

Using Eqs. (7) and (8) yields the following mixed form:
d/ Qabvw evw deab S 33 r33 dr33 Qa3v3 cv3 dca3  xab Hdeab
10

129

14
H iab

are 2 2 whose elements are a generalisation


where
of the Hermite cubic polynomials and Clab have similar
properties [22]. The name Hermitian zig-zag plate
model has been chosen to remind these particular properties of the through-the-thickness shape functions.
2.4. Derivation of the transverse normal stress
We are going now to present some details of the derivation of r33 because in [22] the case without thermal eects
was considered and thermal eects are here for the rst
time taken into account. The transverse normal stress r33
is supposed constant through-the-thickness of the laminate
and its value is determined in such a way that the two possible transverse normal strains, namely e33 obtained by the
constitutive Eq. (8) and V3,3, are compatible [22]; Aitharaju and Averill [18,29] proposes a compatibility conditions
that derives from the Reissners mixed variational principle
hV 3;3  e33 i 0

15

while Cook and Tessler [19] suggests a dierent condition,


i.e. to minimize the following integral quantity

2.3. The Hermitian zig-zag plate model

hV 3;3  e33 2 i
There are essentially three conditions to be satised in
order to obtain the nal expression of the Hermitian zigzag plate model starting from Eqs. (1)(8).

16

that leads to the following condition:


hV 3;3  e33 S 33 i 0

17

11

Both Averills condition (15) and Tesslers one (16) may be


written in a compact form

p1
Averills condition
hV 3;3  e33 pi 0
18
p S 33 Tesslers condition

2. Traction equilibrium conditions on top and bottom laminate faces (x3 = 0, h)

Substituting Eq. (6) and the second of Eq. (8) into Eq. (18),
after some manipulations, we obtain

1. Transverse shear stress continuity


k

sb3 xx ; k z ; t k1 sb3 xx ; k1 z ; t; k 1; . . . ; N  1

sa3 xx ; 0; t 
p0a xx ; t

sa3 xx ; h; t 
pha xx ; t

p0a

12

whcb shc3;b Dwh  w0  rH


33

pha

where
and
are the prescribed tangential loads distributed on bottom and top faces, respectively.
3. Use of the displacements and transverse shear stresses of
the external laminate faces as degrees of freedom of the
model
S 0a xx ; t V a xx ; 0; t
w0 xx ; t V 3 xx ; 0; t
s0a3 xx ; t 1 sa3 xx ; 0; t
S ha xx ; t V a xx ; h; t
wh xx ; t V 3 xx ; h; t
sha3 xx ; t N sa3 xx ; h; t

r33 p1cb S 0c;b  p2cb w0;cb p3cb S hc;b  p4cb wh;cb w0cb s0c3;b

13

19

where
hpS 33 Rab H iac i
;
hpS 33 i
hpS 33 Rab Cqac i
wqcb
;
hpS 33 i
hpi
D
hhpS 33 i
hpS 33 k33 Hi
rH
33
hpS 33 i
picb

i 1; 2; 3; 4
q 0; h
20

Eq. (19) shows that r33 is a function of the Hermitian degrees of freedom (13) and of temperature.

130

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136

2.5. Derivation of equations of motion and boundary


conditions
By means of the principle of virtual work, it is possible
to obtain the equations of motion and related boundary
conditions of the proposed theory
Z
hQabvw evw deab S 33 r33 dr33 Qa3v3 cv3 dca3  xab Hdeab i dX
X
Z
Z
 hqV i dV i i dX p0a dS 0a 
q0 dV 03 
pha dS ha
X
h


q dV

h
3 dX

N Z
X
k1

k S

ri dV i dS p

21

pha the tangenwhere q is the material mass density, p0a and 


tial loads applied on the bottom and top faces, 
q0 and qh
the corresponding transversal loads and ri are the loads applied to the lateral cylindrical surface Sp (Fig. 1). We remind that the temperature distribution is known a priori
(Eq. (9)). See [22] for the details of the equations of motion
and boundary conditions for the case of mechanical loads.
In the present case the thermal resultant forces and moment should be added to the mechanical ones; we omit
their expressions for sake of brevity.

faces of the laminate (denoted by h and 0 superscripts,


respectively, Fig. 2), the nite element approximation will
also be based on this separation. A subscript will denote
the number of the node to which the degree of freedom corresponds; a separate node numbering is used for the top
and bottom faces (Fig. 2).
3.1. FEM approximation: shape functions and degrees of
freedom
Let us discuss the mixed FEM approximation adopted
for the plate nite element; the generalised displacements
of the plate model are those dened in Eq. (13).
The 4 in-plane displacements S 01 ; S 02 ; S h1 and S h2 and the
4 transverse shear stresses s013 ; s023 ; sh13 and sh23 appear with
their rst derivatives in the strain energy expression thus
needing a C0 approximation. We adopt the parabolic 2D
shape functions used for the classical QUAD8 membrane
elements, thus obtaining, per each generalised displacements, 8 degrees of freedom, 4 placed at the corners and
4 placed at the centre of each side (black and white nodes
in Fig. 2, respectively). Considering, for example, the bottom face in-plane displacements and transverse shear stresses, we have the following FEM approximation (analogous
expressions hold for the top face)

3. Plate mixed nite element


Based on the theory briey summarized in Section 2, we
now formulate the relative plate nite element (Fig. 2). In
the context of nite element approximation a modied
notation will be used for sake of simplicity; u, v and w will
be the nodal displacements corresponding to the x1-, x2and x3-axis, respectively, while sxz and syz are the
transverse shear stresses. Considering that the degrees of
freedom of the model are located at the top and bottom

S 01 xa ; t

8
X

P i xa u0i t

i1

S 02 xa ; t

8
X

P i xa v0i t

i1

s013 xa ; t

8
X

22
P i xa s0xzi t

i1

s023 xa ; t

8
X

P i xa s0yzi t

i1

Fig. 2. Plate mixed nite element topology.

where Pi are the serendipity 2D shape functions. As a nal


result, we have 32 FEM degrees of freedom per each face (4
per each node), for a total of 64 dofs (Fig. 2). There are
fundamentally two reasons for choosing the parabolic instead of the linear shape functions [23]. The rst reason is
that, also for simple cases of loads and boundary conditions, the distributions of in-plane displacements in x1
and x2 is not simply linear if evaluated at the top and bottom faces. The second reason is that, with an additive midnode per each side and per each face of the element, we can
describe interfacial damages (with the sub-laminate approach) with a high mesh density without using too many
elements.
A C1 approximation is required for the transverse displacements w0 and wh due to the presence of their second
derivatives in the strain energy expression; the corresponding rotational degrees of freedom w,x and w,y will appear in
the FEM approximation due to the adoption of the 2D
cubic Hermitian polynomials. As for the bottom face transverse displacement, we have

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136

w0 xa ; t

4
X

fF H tg T fhtg

H i xa w0i t H xi xa w0;xi t

i1

H yi xa w0;yi t

23

where Hi, Hxi and Hyi are the Hermite cubic polynomials
and their derivatives. In this case we have 12 FEM degrees
of freedom per each face (3 per each corner node), for a total of 24 (Fig. 2). It is important to remind that the Hermite
polynomials, used as shape functions for the FEM approximation of transverse degrees of freedom along x1 and x2,
are not related with the Hermitian through-the-thickness
shape functions (Section 2.3).
The total number of FEM degrees of freedom per each
element is thus 64 + 24 = 88. The degrees of freedom vector will be denoted by {q(t)}.
3.2. Derivation of FEM equations of motion
Introducing the FEM approximations (Eqs. (22) and
(23) and similar ones for top face generalised displacements) into the expressions of displacements (14), strains
(7) and stresses (8) and (19) and these into the virtual work
principle expression (21), we nally obtain the equation of
motion of the plate nite element
Mf
qtg Kfqtg fF M tg fF H tg

24

where [M] is the mass matrix, [K] the stiness matrix,


{FM(t)} and {FH(t)} the mechanical and thermal equivalent
nodal forces, respectively. We omit the details of their derivation because they can be obtained via the classical FEM
procedure.
A few words have to be spent to describe the thermal
contribution to the load vector. This vector comes from
two terms in the virtual variation of the strain energy (21)
Z
hS 33 r33 dr33  xab Hdeab i dX
25
X

and, in particular, the contribution due to the transverse


normal stress is limited to the term containing the temperature (Eqs. (19) and (20))
Z
hS 33 rH
33 dr33  xab Hdeab i dX
X

Z 
hpS 33 k33 Hi
dr33  xab Hdeab dX

S 33
26
hpS 33 i
X
Without considering further details of the derivation, it can
be readily seen that {FH(t)} can be determined after integration, over the thickness and over the reference surface
of the element, of a function containing the temperature
variation H. In order to simplify this integration, we have
supposed to approximate the temperature function assuming that it is through-the-thickness linear and distributed in
terms of x1 and x2 as well as in-plane displacements and
transverse shear stresses (Eq. (22)). Thus, we have only to
know the 16 nodal values of temperature (8 nodes per each
element face) contained in the vector {h} and then it is possible to write

131

27

where [T] depends only on the nite element dimensions,


stacking sequence and mechanical properties but not on
the temperature.
3.3. The sub-laminates approach
It is important to spend a few words on the sub-laminates approach and on how it can be used to improve
the modelling capabilities of the plate nite element based
on the Hermitian zig-zag plate theory.
At rst, we focus our attention on the meaning of sublaminates; a sub-laminate is a group of adjacent layers
belonging to the whole laminate. We must not think to layers only in the classical physical sense, but also in a more
mathematical one; if needed, a physical layer may be
divided in two or more mathematical layers with the
same mechanical properties. As a consequence, a sub-laminate may correspond to the whole laminate thickness, to a
group of physical layers or to a group of mathematical ones.
The division of the whole thickness of a laminate in more
sub-laminates and the assumption that the Hermitian zigzag plate theory is valid in each of them, constitute an eective method to improve the theory performances without
the need for increasing the through-the-thickness polynomial order of the displacements. For example, the transverse displacement may be supposed piecewise linear
instead of simply linear and this may be obtained without
improving the underlying theory complexity but only placing its validity domain in more laminate sub-regions. From
the FEM point of view, the possibility to divide the thickness in some sub-domains appears to be a normal mesh procedure. Thus, when we are meshing a plate, we will not have
only to sub-divide the (x1, x2) domain, but also the thickness
dimension. As a nal consequence, the meshing procedure
is that of a 3D volume and the nite elements we are considering may be used as brick elements; and this is a simplication of the whole modelling work also from the
computational and programming point of view. Nevertheless, the dierence between a 3D nite element model and
the present 2D sub-laminates approach must be claried.
When using 3D nite elements for meshing a structure,
the shape functions used along the three axes are usually
the same and are part of the FEM approximation; the plate
nite element based on the Hermitian zig-zag model has traditional FEM shape functions along x1 and x2 axes while,
along x3, the shape functions are those of the underlying
theory, i.e. with no FEM approximation. These thickness
shape functions give to the model some higher-order capabilities (transverse shear stresses continuity, for example)
that cannot be fullled by traditional FEM shape functions.
Moreover, the use of more sub-laminates along the thickness does not improve at the same degree of accuracy the
evaluation of all quantities; as it will be shown below (Section 4), in-plane displacements, strains and stresses are
correctly evaluated also with one through-the-thickness

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136


1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6
x3

sub-division while transverse quantities are better described


with more sub-laminates. For this reason, there is the possibility to choose the number of elements along the thickness depending on the quantity one has to calculate.
When we assemble the nite elements, we must take care
to guarantee the required continuities of displacements and
transverse shear stresses along the thickness. Inside each
sub-laminate nite element the continuity is guaranteed
by the Hermitian theory itself (axial displacements are continuous except when an interlayer slip must be modelled and
transverse shear stresses are always continuous). When
passing from a sub-laminate to another, the continuities
may be imposed (when necessary, i.e. always for shear stresses and in the case of undamaged interfaces for displacements) using the traditional assembling procedure. The
importance of having placed the nodes and degrees of freedom of the theory and of the relative plate nite element on
the external top and bottom faces is thus evident. Moreover, the possibility to impose or not the continuity of some
quantities at the interface between adjacent sub-laminates
leads to a modelling capability that is wider than that
oered in each single sub-laminate by the Hermitian theory.
With a discontinuity in the transverse displacement it is possible to model fracture modes of the I type (opening modes).
The possibility to model discontinuities between sub-laminates in terms of axial displacements appears not to be an
improvement with respect to the Hermitian model, considering that also in each sub-laminate we have this modelling
capability; but it has already been shown [23] that, for
severe level of sliding type damages, the latter approach
may be erroneous while the sub-laminate one is successful.

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2
HZZ1
HZZ2

0.1

Pagano
0

-1

V1(L,L/2,x3)

-4

x 10

Fig. 3. V1(L, L/2, x3) through-the-thickness distribution.


1
HZZ1
0.9

HZZ2
HZZ4

0.8

Pagano

0.7

0.6
x3

132

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

4. Numerical results
0.1

In this section we present a simple static analysis to


assess the accuracy of the proposed model and of the developed plate mixed nite element.
We consider the case of a cross-ply square plate
(a = b = L), simply supported on the four edges and subjected to a transverse double-sine distributed load applied
on the top face
px 
px 
1
2
qh x1 ; x2 sin
sin
a
b

6.5

6.6

6.7

6.8

6.9

-4

x 10

Fig. 4. V3(L/2, L/2, x3) through-the-thickness distribution.


1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2
HZZ1
HZZ2

0.1

Table 1
Material mechanical properties

V3(L/2,L/2,x3)

x3

The mechanical properties of the adopted material are


listed in Table 1; the laminate is regular, the stacking sequence is (0/90/0/90) with total thickness 1 [mm]. The
side length-to-thickness ratio is 4. The problem has an exact solution [1] with which the solution obtained with the
present approach (Hermitian zig-zag model + sub-laminate
approach) will be compared: the problem has been solved
via the HZZ 2D nite element modelling only 1/4 of the

Pagano
0

E1 [MPa]

E2, E3 [MPa]

G12, G13 [MPa]

G23 [MPa]

m12, m13

m23

111,000

7900

3300

2000

0.33

0.49

10

11(L/2,L/2,x3)

Fig. 5. e11(L/2, L/2, x3) through-the-thickness distribution.

15
x 10

-5

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136


1
HZZ1
HZZ2

0.9

Pagano
0.8

0.7

0.6
x3

plate with 8 8 n elements (n being the number of sublaminates along the thickness). When 2 sub-laminates are
used, each of them consists of 2 layers. Figures showing
through-the-thickness distributions adopt the following
units: [mm] for the thickness coordinate and for displacements, [MPa] for stresses (strains are non-dimensional).
In Figs. 310 some through-the-thickness distributions
of displacements, strains and stresses are shown. Figs. 3,
5 and 8 demonstrate that also with one sub-laminate inplane quantities are well captured by the Hermitian model.
This is dierent from the case of transverse quantities (Figs.
4, 6, 7, 9 and 10) for which the use of a greater number of
thickness subdivisions is desiderable. Of particular interest
is that the procedure for calculating the transverse normal
stress r33 (constant along the thickness of each sub-laminate) leads to the determination of a sort of average value
per each sub-laminate (Fig. 9).

133

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0
-10

-8

-6

-4

-2
0
11(L/2,L/2,x3)

Fig. 8. r11(L/2, L/2, x3) through-the-thickness distribution.


1
HZZ1
0.9

1
HZZ1

HZZ2

0.8

HZZ2

0.9

HZZ4

HZZ4

Pagano
0.8

Pagano

0.7
0.7

0.6

x3

x3

0.6

0.5
0.5

0.4
0.4

0.3
0.3

0.2
0.2

0.1
0.1

-5

5
33(L/2,L/2,x3)

10

15

-5

x 10

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5
0.6
33(L/2,L/2,x3)

0.7

0.8

0.9

Fig. 6. e33(L/2, L/2, x3) through-the-thickness distribution.


Fig. 9. r33(L/2, L/2, x3) through-the-thickness distribution.
1

HZZ1
0.9

HZZ1

HZZ2

0.9

HZZ2

HZZ4

HZZ4
0.8

Pagano

0.7

0.7

0.6

0.6

0.5

x3

x3

0.8

0.5

0.4

0.4

0.3

0.3

0.2

0.2

0.1

0.1

0
-5.5

-5

-4.5

-4

-3.5

-3
-2.5
13(L,L/2,x3)

-2

-1.5

-1

Fig. 7. c13(L, L/2, x3) through-the-thickness distribution.

-0.5
-4

x 10

Pagano

-1

-0.8

-0.6
13(L,L/2,x3)

-0.4

-0.2

Fig. 10. s13(L, L/2, x3) through-the-thickness distribution.

134

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136

5. Conclusions
The paper presents a FEM approach for the analysis of
multilayered composite plates subjected to mechanical
loads and temperature variations. The underlying theory
is a zig-zag one that guarantees the continuity of transverse
shear stresses (that can be also dierent from zero on top
and bottom faces due to the presence of tangential loads)
and takes into account transverse normal deformability.
The theory itself and the relative plate mixed nite element
have their degrees of freedom placed on the external faces;
the plate element may also be regarded as a 3D brick element for this characteristic but it maintains the same computational logic of a traditional 2D element. As a
consequence, it is possible to divide the whole laminate
thickness in some sub-domains each of them corresponding
to a nite element sub-laminate thus improving the accuracy of the whole approach. The sub-laminate methodology appears to be very eective in increasing the
modelling capabilities of any lamination theory, because:
1. the nal FEM model is more accurate than the underlying theory without the need for increasing the order of
expansion of displacements and stresses along the
thickness;
2. the number of sub-laminates may be chosen depending
on the needed degree of accuracy and on the quantity
(in-plane or transverse, displacement or stresses) one
has to analyse;
3. the division of the thickness in some sub-domains gives
a modelling freedom that is unknown to the classical
lamination theories and to their FEM implementations;
it is possible to simulate interlayer damages of dierent
kinds and to study plates with dierent thicknesses;
4. from a computational and programming point of view,
the sub-laminates approach may be simply faced as a
normal 3D FEM modelling.
The basic concepts and hypotheses of the theory and of
the related plate mixed nite element have been presented
and discussed. Some numerical results about a square laminate subjected to transverse distributed loads have been
shown to assess the accuracy of the FEM approach; the latter has proven to be eective in evaluating the static
response of thick plates to mechanical loads.
Further modelling capabilities that have to be tested are:
(i) application of tangential loads to the external faces of
the laminates, (ii) modelling of damaged plates (sliding
type delaminations), (iii) analysis of plates response to
temperature distributions.
Acknowledgements

by the Italian Ministry of University and Research


(MIUR), that the authors gratefully acknowledge.
Appendix A. Constitutive equations
Let us suppose that any layer of the laminate is referred
to both the geometric coordinate system (x1, x2, x3) and
to its own material coordinate system x1 ; x2 ; x3 (axes
of orthotropy). It is supposed that x3 x3 . The superscript
* will indicate a quantity when referred to the material axes.
Moreover, we denote with superscript M the mechanical
component of the strain tensor and with H the thermal
one. For sake of simplicity, we will use a vector notation.
We know that [4]
8  9
>
> r11 >
>
>
>
>
>
> r22 >
>
>
>
>
>
=
< r >
33


M
fr g C   fe g ()

>
s13 >
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
 >
>
>
s
>
23 >
>
;
:  >
s12
3 8 M 9
2 
C 11 C 12 C 13
0
0
0
e11 >
>
>
>
>
7
6 C C C
M >
>
>
0
0
0 7 >
>
> e22 >
6 12
22
23
>
>
>
>
7
6 
=
6 C 13 C 23 C 33
0
0
0 7 < eM
33
7
6
6


M
0
0 C 44
0
0 7
>
> c13 >
7 >
6 0
>
>
>
7 >
6

>
M >
4 0
0
0
0 C 55
0 5 >
c
>
> 23 >
>
;
: M >
0
0
0
0
0 C 66
c12
A:1
while, in geometric axes,
9
8
r11 >
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> r22 >
>
>
>
>
>
=
<r >
33
M
frg C  fe g ()
>
s13 >
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
s
>
>
23
>
>
;
:
s12
2
C 11 C 12 C 13
0
0
6C
0
0
6 12 C 22 C 23
6
6 C 13 C 23 C 33
0
0
6
6 0
0
0 C 44 C 45
6
6
4 0
0
0 C 45 C 55
C 16

C 36

A:2
where the relation between [C] and [C*] depends on h, the
angle between the x1 and x1 axes [4].
The mechanical strains are the dierence between the
total strains and the thermal ones; in material axes


This research is part of the Scientic Research Programs


of National Interest, titled Damage tolerance design of
stiened and sandwich composite panels for fuselages:
modelling, experimental testing and monitoring funded

C 26

3 8 M9
C 16
e11 >
>
>
>
>
>
7
>
>
>
C 26 7 >
eM
>
22 >
>
>
>
7 >
<
M
C 36 7
e33 =
7
M
0 7
>
> c13 >
7 >
>
>
>
7 >
>
M >
>
0 5 >
c
>
23 >
>
;
: M>
C 66
c12

feM g fe g  feH g

A:3

where the thermal strains are related to temperature variation H = T  T0 by means of the thermal expansion coecients {a*}

M. Gherlone, M. Di Sciuva / Composite Structures 81 (2007) 125136




feH g fa gH

A:4

Qlm C lm

with
fa g a11

a22

a33

0 0

feM g feg  feH g

A:6

feH g fagH

A:7

and
fag b c2 a11 s2 a22 s2 a11 c2 a22 a33 0 0 2csa11  a22 cT
A:8

where c and s are the cosine and sine of h, respectively.


Substituting Eq. (A.6) into Eq. (A.2) we have that
frg Cfeg  feH g Cfeg  fkgH

A:9

where
fkg Cfag

A:10

{k} has the following structure:


k22

k33

k12 cT

A:11

Eq. (A.9) may be rewritten in an equivalent mixed way


moving the transverse normal stress r33 on the right side
and the transverse normal strain on the left one. In indicial
notation we thus obtain
rab Qabvw evw S 33 Rab r33  xab H
A:12

e33 S 33 Rab eab S 33 r33 S 33 k33 H


sa3 Qa3v3 cv3
where
2

Q1111

6Q
6 1211
Qabvw () 6
4 Q2111
2

Q11

6Q
6 16
6
4 Q16

Q2211
Q16
Q66
Q66

Q1112

Q1121

Q1212

Q1221

Q2112 Q2121
Q2212 Q2221
3
Q16 Q12
Q66 Q26 7
7
7
Q66 Q26 5

Q1122

A:14

References

with

fkg b k11

l; m 4; 5

i; j 1; 2; 6

A:5

0

Rewriting Eq. (A.3) in geometric axes we obtain

Q1222 7
7
7
Q2122 5
Q2222

Q12 Q26 Q26 Q22



 

Q1313 Q1323
Q44 Q45
Qa3v3 ()

Q2313 Q2323
Q45 Q55

 

R11 R12
C 13 C 63
Rab

R21 R22
C 63 C 23
1
S 33
C 33

 


x11 x12
R11
k11 k12
xab

 S 33 k33
x21 x22
k12 k22
R21

R12
R22


A:13

and

Qij  C ij  C i3 C j3 S 33 ;

135

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