A novel manufacturing method is investigated, in which a steep temperature gradient within the workpiece is induced to facilitate material flow locally. By this method, complex shapes can be formed without complicated dies. The feasibility of the idea is analyzed experimentally and numerically. Local heating is realized either by means of induction or laser heating. Experiments using materials 16MnCr5, X5CrNi18/9, and Ti6Al4V have been conducted under various process conditions. These experiments have also been modeled by finite element method (FEM) validating the analysis procedure. Electromagnetic models are used to analyze the heat generation pattern on the workpiece by induction. It is found that the most important process parameters are the thermal diffusivity and the temperature sensitivity of the flow curve of the workpiece material. The lower the thermal diffusivity and the higher the temperature sensitivity, the more differentiated local shapes can be formed. For the analyzed geometries, induction heating has been observed to be more effective. Deformation rate and initial workpiece geometry have also a significant effect on the achievable local deformations. Various failure modes such as unintended deformations, damage by fracture, and melting of the workpiece material are described. It is concluded that the new idea of forming local shapes by local heating is a feasible and controllable manufacturing alternative. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.