REPLICATORS! Ring any bells?
Look at your computer setup and imagine that you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust, think Lego bricks and you're in the right area. You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself.
RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer shown on the right - a self-replicating machine. This 3D printer builds the parts up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about 30,000. And it isn't even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about 500). That way it's accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. Following the principles of the Free Software Movement we are distributing the RepRap machine at no cost to everyone under the GNU General Public Licence. So, if you have a RepRap machine, you can use it to make another and give that one to a friend...
The RepRap project became widely known after a large press coverage in March 2005, though the idea goes back to a paper on the web written by Adrian Bowyer on 2 February 2004.
RepRap Version 1.0 "Darwin" can be built by anyone now - see the Make your own RepRap link there or on the left, and for ways to get the bits and pieces you need, see the Obtaining Parts link. READ THE REST HERE: reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHo… pictures and all that good junk)