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We present a numerical model that calculates the surface displacements generated by the absorption of a laser pulse by an orthotropic medium. This model solves the heat and acoustic wave equations using temporal Laplace and spatial two‐dimensional Fourier transformations. This model allows us to calculate the normal and in‐plane displacements on the front or back surface of an orthotropic plate over a complete area and for virtually any time and beam profiles of the laser excitation. Numerical simulations are compared to experimental results obtained on an aluminum sample and on a graphite‐epoxy plate. The experimental and numerical results are in good agreement.