Based upon the knowledge of the Stroh formalism and the Lekhnitskii formalism for two-dimensional anisotropic elasticity as well as the complex variable formalism developed by Lekhnitskii for plate bending problems, in this paper a Stroh-like formalism for the bending theory of anisotropic plates is established. The key feature that makes the Stroh formalism more attractive than the Lekhnitskii formalism is that the former possesses the eigenrelation that relates the eigenmodes of stress functions and displacements to the material properties. To retain this special feature, the associated eigenrelation and orthogonality relation have also been obtained for the present formalism. By intentional rearrangement, this new formalism and its associated relations look almost the same as those for the two-dimensional problems. Therefore, almost all the techniques developed for the two-dimensional problems can now be applied to the plate bending problems. Thus, many unsolved plate bending problems can now be solved if their corresponding two-dimensional problems have been solved successfully. To illustrate this benefit, two simple examples are shown in this paper. They are anisotropic plates containing elliptic holes or inclusions subjected to out-of-plane bending moments. The results are simple, exact and general. Note that the anisotropic plates treated in this paper consider only the homogeneous anisotropic plates. If a composite laminate is considered, it should be a symmetric laminate to avoid the coupling between stretching and bending behaviors.
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