This paper outlines the development of a theoretical approach to the estimation of processing time for the fabrication of advanced composite parts. The model, termed 'first-order model', assumes that all subprocess steps can be modelled as having first-order dynamics. The steps are then linearized and summed according to their 'extensive' variables. Part complexity is handled using an information theoretic approach. The result for hand lay-up is a simple linear equation which compares favourably with experiments and with other very detailed cost estimation models. The model is very general, and appears applicable to all additive (composites) as well as subtractive (machining) processes.
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