© The Author(s) 2021.In this paper, a model-free control framework is proposed to control the tip force of a cantilevered trilayer CPA and similar cantilevered smart actuators. The proposed control method eliminates the requirement of modeling the CPAs in controller design for each application, and it is based on the online local estimation of the actuator dynamics. Due to the fact that the controller has few parameters to tune, this control method provides a relatively easy design and implementation process for the CPAs as compared to other model-free controllers. Although it is not vital, in order to optimize the controller performance, a meta-heuristic particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm, which utilizes an initial baseline model that approximates the CPAs dynamics, is used. The performance of the optimized controller is investigated in simulation and experimentally. Successful results are obtained with the proposed controller in terms of control performance, robustness, and repeatability as compared with a conventional optimized PI controller.