Smart Material - Home of the MFC

MFC curled
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 1999. In 2002, Smart Material started commercializing this invention worldwide as NASA's licensed manufacturer and distributor. Since then, the MFC has been continuously improved and customized to fit customers’ specific needs and to meet the requirements for new applications. In 2021 we counted more than 1,300   MFC publications worldwide, documenting various applications, MFC properties and reliability.

Benefits and Features:

  • 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

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 transfers 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. The MFC can also be applied (normally bonded) as a thin, surface-conformable sheet to various types of structures, or embedded in a composite structure. If voltage is applied, it works as an actuator and 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 P2 mode
MFC P2 mode

The P1 type MFCs, including the F1 and S1 types, utilize 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 and P3 type (d31 effect), Contractor

MFC P2 mode
MFC P2 mode

The P2 and P3 type MFCs utilize 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 (PEH) and as strain sensors.

The P2 type MFCs are also available as fully assembled Cantilevers for PEH applications.

The P3 type MFC is comprised of very wide fibers, which yields an orthotropic, monolithic piezo ceramic plate like behavior compared with the P2-type. This also causes the P3 type MFC to be less flexible than the P2 or P1 type MFCs.

Overview of Typical Properties

Max. blocking force 28N to 1kN depending on width of MFC
Max. operating voltage P1, S1, F1: -500V to +1500V
P2, P3: -60V to 360V
P2 Single Crystal: 0V to 500V
Max. operating frequency Actuator: 10kHz

Sensor, Harvester <1MHz

Typical lifetime

Actuator: 10E+9 cycles

Sensor: 10E+11 cycles (< 400ppm)

Harvester:10E+10 cycles (< 600ppm)

Typical thickness 300µm, 12mil
Typical capacitance

P1, S1, F1: 2nF to 12nF

P2, P3: 25nF to 200nF

MFC actuation modes