Draw beads are widely utilized as a mechanism for providing proper restraining force to a sheet in a forming operation. In this paper, numerical simulations using the nonlinear finite element method are conducted to model the process of drawing a sheet through various draw bead configurations to study the mechanics of draw bead restraint. By examing the sensitivity of the draw bead restraining force due to the change of the draw bead penetration, the work shows that the penetration has the potential to be a very good element for varying and controlling restraining force during the process. A closed-loop feedback control of draw bead penetration using a proportional-integral controller is achieved by the combination of the original finite element simulation and a special element which links penetration to a pre-defined restraining force trajectory. This method has the potential to accommodate the uncontrolled variation of boundary conditions in practice and therefore improve the forming repeatability dramatically. The use of finite element analysis as a method for numerically experimenting and exploring new processing methods is also demonstrated by the results of this paper.