The transient deformation of thin grade 304 stainless steel metal sheets heated by a single pulse of a CO2 laser beam is simulated in this paper. The laser beam is assumed to be line-shaped and the problem is treated as three-dimensional thermo-elastoplastic. The temperature field, deformation pattern, stress-strain states and the residual stress distribution of the specimens have been calculated numerically and the transient response of the bending angle has been validated by experiments. Good agreement has been obtained between the numerical simulation and the experiments under various operating conditions. The numerical study reveals that a high temperature gradient exists for a positive bending angle and a low one for a negative angle. It transpires that the mechanisms of pulsed laser forming are dependent mainly upon the laser power, the heating time, the clamping arrangement, as well as the geometry, the thermal properties and the original stress states of the specimen.
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