This paper describes the manufacture, characterisation and actuation of functional composites using asymmetric bistable composites. Such laminate structures are finding interest in applications such shape changing applications, energy harvesting and de-icing. In this paper results are presented for bistable structures that are actuated by a variety of mechanisms to induce (snap-through' between states or a change of shape in a single state. This use of piezoelectric ceramic based actuators (Macro Fibre Composites), shape memory alloys and thermal actuation are examined. The actuators characteristics of each system, such as bandwidth, power and energy requirements, are described and compared.