The "self-replicating rapid prototyper," or "RepRap" is the brainchild of Dr. Adrian Bowyer, a senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Bath in the UK. It is based on rapid prototyping technology commonly used to manufacturer plastic components in industry from computer-generated blueprints -- effectively a form of 3D printer.Link to CNN item. Here's the RepRap website: Link.
But Bowyer told CNN the RepRap's ability to copy itself could put rapid prototyping technology within reach of the world's poorest communities by alleviating the need for the sort of large-scale industrial infrastructure common across the developed world.
"People can start manufacturing goods at a low price," said Bowyer. "All one needs is a computer and a machine that can copy itself. It can spread without enormous expenditure of capital and where labor costs are low.