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An apparatus and a method for optimizing a Galfenol-type magnetostriction actuator. The method and apparatus includes an elongated Galfenol-type magnetostrictive bar, first coil and a second coil, orthogonal to the first coil, with the coils arranged and activated to optimize expansion and contraction in the bar. According to the apparatus and the method, the first coil pre-aligns the magnetic moments of the bar into a desired crystallographic orientation that allows for maximum expansion or contraction when under the influence of the magnetic field of the second coil.