Macro Fiber Composite (MFC) actuators, which are commonly integrated in modern smart structures, may be subjected to high levels of mechanical loads. Opposed to the electrical actuation, these loads are not always controlled or anticipated by the user. Thus, they may yield a response that is beyond the linear range due to a stress induced ferro-elastic domain switching. In this paper, the phenomenon of domain switching and mechanical depolarization in the MFC actuator and the resulting degradation of the actuation capabilities are investigated. As an illustrative numerical example, the response of MFC layers in an active beam element is analyzed. Emphasis is placed on the location of the fiber segment along the active beam with a distinction between the compressed and the tensed layers. The results highlight the range of effects associated with the potential nonlinear response of the active structure under high levels of mechanical load.

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