Flexible forming enables the production of sheet metal parts with complex contours and bends by utilising a flexible medium, such as natural or synthetic rubber, as one half of a conventional die set. This study is concerned with simulation and investigation of the significant parameters associated with this process. The analyses were carried out on a commercially available finite element package with appropriate nonlinear material and frictional models. These investigations showed the effectiveness of finite element simulations in process design and exposed the rubber hardness and its advance, blank material type, contact friction, die design as crucial parameters that require adjustment before actual operations. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.