The knowledge of the interrelationships among variables within the sheet metal forming system determines the success of the forming operation in terms of forming severity, stamping quality, and system control. The effects of certain system variables are qualitatively known only for a few simple stamping geometries. However, in the real world press shop, optimization of the forming system and subsequent specification of system variables require quantitative analyses capable of processing multi-variable interactions. Such analyses are beyond solution by normal press shop rules of thumb and require one of many finite element analysis (FEA) schemes. This paper presents several case histories illustrating how a PC or engineering work station can be used to analyze stampings at either the blueprint stage or the die tryout stage. A novel finite element program, based on the deformation theory of plasticity, is used to predict the strains within the stamping. If the strains are at an unacceptable level, possible solutions can be evaluated prior to any tool construction.