Strength Needed in More Than One Direction  
Considering its light weight, a lamina (ply) of fiber reinforced composite is remarkably strong along the fiber direction. However, the same lamina is considerably weaker in all offfiber directions. To address this issue and withstand loadings from multiple angles, one would use a lamination constructed by a number of laminae oriented at different directions.  
Basic Assumptions of Classical Lamination Theory  
Similar to the EulerBernoulli beam theory and the plate theory, the classical lamination theory is only valid for thin laminates (span a and b > 10×thinckness t) with small displacement w in the transverse direction (w << t). It shares the same classical plate theory assumptions:
 
In addition, perfect bonding between layers is assumed.
 
Classical Lamination Theory From Classical Plate Theory  
The classical lamination theory is almost identical to the classical plate theory, the only difference is in the material properties (stressstrain relations). The classical plate theory usually assumes that the material is isotropic, while a fiber reinforced composite laminate with multiple layers (plies) may have more complicated stressstrain relations. The four cornerstones of the lamination theory are the kinematic, constitutive, force resultant, and equilibrium equations. The outcome of each of these segments is summarized as follows:

Forming Stiffness Matrices: A, B, and D 
The plate is assumed to be constructed by a homogeneous but not necessarily isotropic material and subjected to both transverse and inplan loadings. Also, the Cartesian coordinate system is used. The goal is to develop the relations between the external loadings and the displacements. However, the relations between the resultants (forces N and moments M) and the strains (strains e and curvatures k) are of most interest in practice. Replace the stresses in the force and moment resultants with strains via the constitutive equations, we have By applying the summation and integration operations to their respective components, the force and moment resultants can be further simplified to Combine the above equations we can write: where A is called the extensional stiffness, B is called the coupling stiffness, and D is called the bending stiffness of the laminate. The components of these three stiffness matrices are defined as follows: where t_{k} is the thickness of the k^{th} layer and is the distance from the midplan to the centroid of the k^{th} layer. Forming these three stiffness matrices A, B, and D, is probably the most crucial step in the analysis of composite laminates. In some situations, strains expressed in terms of resultants are more handy. The strainresultant relations can be derived with appropriate matrix operations: where Note that A, B, D and A^{*}, B^{*}, D^{*} are all symmetric matrices. Among them, A, B, and D are considered universal notations in the field of composites, i.e., the same notations appear in almost all literature of composite materials. A^{*}, B^{*}, and D^{*}, on the other hand, are not. 