Although forming sheet metal by laser-induced thermal stresses (laser forming) has been extensively studied, the research has mainly focused on a single angle forming process. The task of free curve laser forming of sheet metal is to determine a set of process parameters such as laser scanning paths, laser power and scanning speed that will make a given shape. Two methods were used for generating the laser scanning paths and the bending angles of each path. Each method was analyzed by computer simulation and the two methods were compared. Experiments verified the applicability of the proposed methods. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.