A method and apparatus are provided for forming shapes and contours in metal sections by prestressing a workpiece and generating laser induced compressive stress on the surface of the metal workpiece. The step of prestressing the workpiece is carried out with a jig. The laser process can generate deep compressive stresses to shape even thick components without inducing unwanted tensile stress at the metal surface. The precision of the laser-induced stress enables exact prediction and subsequent contouring of parts.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.