Stainless steel sheet metals were laser bent by means of a high power diode laser at different values of power and scan velocity. The laser power ranged from 100 to 300 W (with an increment of 50 W); two scan speeds were used, 4 and 8 mm/s, and the number of passes was 2, 4 or 6. In the experimentation, the values of bending angle, microstructure and residual stresses of the laser bended sheet metals were analyzed with regard to the input variables. In particular, residual stresses were evaluated by means of X-ray analysis in terms of first and second order stress. Measurements were performed on the convex surface of the sample in the laser beam action zone. The bending process was numerically simulated by means of a thermo-mechanical finite element model, implemented to predict the sheet metal bending angle as a function of the laser power and scan velocity. The residual stress distribution was extracted from the numerical simulations and its agreement with the experimental observations was discussed. As a general conclusion, the effect of multiple scans is hardly simulated by thermo-mechanical models which do not take into account the material annealing during forming.