Finite element analysis is shown to be a useful tool for the offline calibration of a method for the real-time control of a metal forming process. The identification of the material characteristics of a sheet being bent in a pressbrake is chosen as an example. Finite element analysis is used as a numerical experiment to assess the accuracy of the simplified model needed for real-time control. The results suggest ways to improve the algorithm. The finite element analysis shows that the stress estimates are accurate, but the strain estimates need improvement either by the use of an empirical calibration factor or by the development of a more exact theory.