This paper presents an introduction to concepts of complexity in support of assembly-oriented design, to guide the designer in creating a product with the most effective balance of manufacturing and assembly difficulty. The goal is to provide the designer with such information throughout the design process so that an efficient design is produced in the first instance. In this paper, the range of definitions and applications of the term ‘complexity’ are reviewed and then definitions appropriate for the situation are selected. The metrics required for comparison of variants of different complexity is discussed. Finally, a research agenda is presented for development of the proposed metrics within the Designers’ Sandpit project.

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