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Smart Material - Home of the MFC


MFC flat


The Macro Fiber Composite (MFC) is the leading low-profile actuator and sensor offering high performance, flexibility and reliability in a cost competitive device.

The MFC was invented by NASA in 1996. Smart Material started commercializing the MFC as the licensed manufacturer and distributor of the patented invention* worldwide in 2002. Since then, the MFC has been continuously improved and customized to fit the customers’ specific needs and to meet the requirements for new applications.


Benefits and feature of the MFC:

  • Flexible, durable and reliable
  • Increased strain actuator efficiency
  • Directional actuation and sensing
  • Damage tolerant
  • Available as elongator (d33 mode)
    and contractor (d31 mode)
  • Conforms to surfaces
  • Readily embeddable
  • Environmentally sealed package
  • Demonstrated performance
  • Different piezo ceramic materials available
  • Available also in single crystal PMN-PT,

The MFC consists of rectangular piezo ceramic rods sandwiched between layers of adhesive, electrodes and polyimide film. The electrodes are attached to the film in an interdigitated pattern which tranfers the applied voltage MFC-structuredirectly to and from the ribbon shaped rods. This assembly enables in-plane poling, actuation and sensing in a sealed and durable, ready to use package. As a thin, surface conformable sheet it can be applied (normally bonded) to various types of structures or embedded in a composite structure. If voltage is applied it will bend or distort materials, counteract vibrations or generate vibrations. If no voltage is applied it can work as a very sensitive strain gauge, sensing deformations, noise and vibrations. The MFC is also an excellent device to harvest energy from vibrations.

The MFC is available in d33 and d31 operational mode, a unique feature of the Macro Fiber Composite.


MFC P1 type (d33 effect), Elongator

MFC-P1 mode











The P1 type MFCs, including the F1 and S1 types are utilizing the d33 effect for actuation and will elongate up to 1800ppm if operated at the maximum voltage rate of -500V to +1500V. The P1 type MFCs are also very sensitive strain sensors.


MFC P2, P3 type (d31 effect), Contractor



MFC P2 type









The P2, P3 type MFCs are utilizing the d31 effect for actuation and will contract up to 750ppm if operated at the maximum voltage rate of -60V to +360V. The P2 and P3 type MFCs are mostly used for energy harvesting and as strain sensors.


Overview of Typical Properties:

Max. blocking Force 28N to 1kN depending on width of MFC
Max. operating Voltage

P,S,F1: -500 to +1500V

P2, P3: -60V to 360V

Max. operating Frequency

Actuator: 10kHz


Typical lifetime

Actuator: 10E+8 cycles

Sensor: 10E+11 cyles

Harvester:10E+10 cycles

Typical thickness 300µm, 12mil
Typical capacitance

P,S,F1: 2nF to 12nF

P2, P3: 25nF to 200nF

MFC modes

MFC Patent

MFC Engineering Properties

High-field (|E| > 1kV/mm), biased-voltage-operation piezoelectric constants:
d33* 4.6E+02 pC/N 4.6E+02 pm/V
d31** -2.1E+02 pC/N -2.1E+02 pm/V
Low-field (|E| < 1kV/mm > 300V), unbiased-operation piezoelectric constants
d33* 4.0E+02 pC/N 4.0E+02 pm/V
d31** -1.7E+02 pC/N -1.7E+02 pm/V
Free-strain* per volt (low-field - high-field)
for d33 MFC(P1)
~ 0.75 - 0.9 ppm/V ~ 0.75 - 0.9 ppm/V
Free-strain* per volt (low-field - high-field)
for d31 MFC (P2)
~1.1 - 1.3 ppm/V ~1.1 - 1.3 ppm/V
Free-strain hysteresis* ~ 0.2 ~ 0.2
DC poling voltage, Vpol for d33 MFC (P1) +1500V +1500V
DC poling voltage, Vpol for d31 MFC (P2) +360 V +360 V
Poled capacitance @ 1kHz, room temp, Cpol
for d33 MFC (P1)
~ 0.30 nF/cm² ~ 1.94 nF/in²
Poled capacitance @ 1kHz, room temp, Cpol
for d31 MFC (P2)
~ 7.8 nF/cm² ~ 50 nF/ in²
Orthotropic Linear Elastic Properties (constant electric field):
Tensile modulus, E1* 30.336 GPa 4.4E+06 psi
Tensile modulus, E1** 15.857 GPa 2.3E+06 psi
Poisson’s ratio, v12 0.31 0.31
Poisson’s ratio, v21 0.16 0.16
Shear modulus, G12*** 5.515 GPa 8.0E+05 psi
Operational Parameters:
Maximum operational positive voltage, Vmax for d33 MFC (P1) +1500V +1500V
Maximum operational positive voltage, Vmax for d31 MFC (P2) +360V +360V
Maximum operational negative voltage, Vmin for d33 MFC (P1) -500V -500V
Maximum operational negative voltage, Vmin for d31 MFC (P2) -60V -60V
Linear-elastic tensile strain limit 1000 ppm 1000 ppm
Maximum operational tensile strain < 4500 ppm < 4500 ppm
Peak work-energy density ~1000 in-lb/in3 ~1000 in-lb/in3
Maximum operating temperature - Standard Version < 80°C < 176°F
Maximum operating temperature - Hight Temp Version < 130°C < 266°F
Operational lifetime (@ 1kVp-p) > 10E+09 cycles > 10E+09 cycles
Operational lifetime (@ 2kVp-p, 500VDC) > 10E+07 cycles > 10E+07 cycles

Operational bandwidth as actuator, high electric field

at low electric field levels (< 33% of max operating voltage)

0Hz up to 10 kHz

0Hz up to 700kHz

0Hz up to 10 kHz

0Hz up to 700kHz

Operational bandwidth as sensor 0Hz up to 1 MHz 0Hz up to 1 MHz
Additional mechanical parameters
Thickness of all MFC types 300µm, +-10% 12 mil +-10%
Volume Density, active area 5.44 g/cm³ 5.44 g/cm³
Area Density, active area 0.16 g/cm² 0.16 g/cm²

* Rod direction
** Electrode direction
*** Rules-of-mixture estimate



MFC P1 and F1 (d33 effect) standard inventory sizes


MFC P1 types, 0° fiber orientation

-500 to 1500V operating voltage

P1type delta l
model active length
in mm
active width
in mm
overall length
in mm
overall width
in mm
in nF
free strain
in ppm
blocking force
in N
M2503-P1 25 3 46 10 0.20 1050 28
28 7 38 13 0.54 1380


M2814-P1 28 14 38 20 1.15 1550 195
M4005-P1 40 5 50 11 0.38 1180 51
M4010-P1 40 10 50 16 1.23 1400 126
M4312-P1 43 12 60 21 2.03 1500 162
M5628-P1 56 28 67 37 5.07 1800 450
M8503-P1 85 3 110 14 0.64 1050 28
M8507-P1 85 7 101 13 1.76 1380 87
M8514-P1 85 14 101 20 3.39 1600 202
M8528-P1 85 28 103 35 6.58 1800 454
M8557-P1 85 57 103 64 12.84 1800 923
M14003-P1 140 3 160 10 1.46 1050 28

MFC F1 types, 45° fiber orientation

-500 to 1500V operating voltage

MFC F1 delat l
85 28 105 35 7.06 1350

485 calc.

M8557-F1 85 57 105 64 13.26 1750 945 calc.

MFC Special types, S1

-500 to 1500V operating voltage

P1type delta l

M8557-S1 Actuator

with co-located Sensor





105 64



1800 760 calc.




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P1, F1 (d33 effect) elongator

MFC P1 schematic

d33 Actuator with expanding
motion P1


MFC F1 Layout

d33 Actuator with twisting

motion F1

MFC P2 and P3 (d31 effect), standard inventory sizes


MFC P2 types, anisotropic

-60 to 360V operating voltage

P1type delta l
model active length
in mm
active width
in mm
overall length
in mm
overall width
in mm
in nF
free strain
in ppm
blocking force
in N
M0714-P2 7 14 16 16 7.89 -600 -85
28 7 37 10 15.11 -650


M2814-P2 28 14 37 18 30.78 -700


M5628-P2 56 28 66 31 113.06 -820 -205
M8503-P2 85 3 113 8 15.68 -480 -13
M8507-P2 85 7 100 10 49.84 -670 -42
M8514-P2 85 14 100 18 84.04 -700 -85
M8528-P2 85 28 103 31 177.07 -820 -205
M8557-P2 85 57 103 60 342.93 -840 -430
M8585-P2 85 85 103 88 520.37 -842


M17007-P2 170 7 186 12 93.11 -670 -42

MFC P3 types, orthotropic

-60 to 360V operating voltage

MFC F1 delat l
28 14 37 18 33.75 -750


M5628-P3 56 28 70 34 133.12 -900 -265
M8528-P3 85 28 103 31 224.06 -900 -265



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P2, P3 (d31 effect) contractor



MFC P1 schematic

d31 Actuator with contracting
motion P2


Specialty Macro Fiber Composites and custom designs














In addition to manufacturing Macro Fiber Composites in a wide variety of standard sizes, we are also offering many specialized MFC layouts to meet our customers’ needs for applications which are requiring more complex layouts.


This includes the Star MFC, for pumps and synthetic jets, the S1 and S2 types, which consist of sensor and actuator elements for a closed loop control, triangular shaped MFCs for strain adaptation and several other MFC arrays.



S1 Type MFCStarMFC









Triangle MFC









A growing percentage of MFCs manafctured by Smart Material are customer specific designs. Typically the feasibility of customer specific applications are tested with the various standard MFC sizes first, including rapid prototyping. After the initial feasibility and prototyping phase, the majority of our customers are deciding to make a application specific custom design of the MFC. Some of most common reasons for ordering a custom design are:

  • to meet the exact required mechanical dimensions as well as strain and blocking force requirements,
  • to combine several standard MFCs in one single unit to save costs, including assembly costs of the MFCs during production of the targeted application,
  • to integrate electronic components like for example rectifiers for multi MFC harvesters,
  • to include specific interconnect power leads and connectors in the MFC design to avoid standard cable connections especially in aerospace applications.

Smart Material offers two custom design services ranging from 5 to 6 weeks total lead time for the first custom units being shipped to the customer.


Overview for MFC custom designs:

Max. size of custom MFC

400mm by 530mm,

15.7 inches by 20 inches

MFC types

P1, F1, P2, P3

Typical lead time

5 weeks for < 25 units

6 weeks for > 25 units

Available outer shell materials

Polyimide (Capton), Polyester

Typical thickness 300µm, 12mil
NRE charges

depending on requested lead time

The following list is a compilation of some of the application areas for the MFC grouped by the most active market segments. This list reflects ongoing development projects or applications already on the market and is of course not complete and more intended for orientation. Please check out our Support section frequently where you will find additional Publications and Presentations about applications for the Macro Fiber Composite, check out the MFC Forum or simply write us.

  • De-Icing of Composite Airplane Wings and Structures
  • Vibration control of helicopter rotor blades
  • Rudder control of UAVs
  • Structural Health Monitoring of composite bodies
  • Morphing of wings
  • Vibration control of satellite booms
  • Vibration control of rudders
  • Structural Health Monitoring of Pipelines
  • Structural Health Monitoring of Wind Generator Blades
  • Structural Health Monitoring of rails
  • Energy Harvesting for Structural Health Monitoring
  • Energy autonmous SHM of civil structures

  • Strain gauges
  • Control for spot welder
  • Guided wave based health monitoring
  • High frequency valve controls
  • Positioning devices

  • Shape control of spoilers
  • Haptic for user interfaces and control components
  • Vibration control of driveshafts
  • Air ultrasound transducers
  • Structural Health Monitoring of rotating components
  • Crash sensors
  • Energy harvesting in shoes, sporting goods
  • Vibration control in sporting goods
  • Haptic user interfaces
  • Energy autonomous security devices