A couple weeks ago I began work on a RepRap machine. A RepRap is a desktop fabricator or 3D printer that is capable of making all of the parts of itself that are not stock off-the-self items. It's a 2 1/2 axis CNC plastic extruder that fabricates parts by laying down layers of melted plastic, one atop the next.
RepRap was conceived from the beginning as an Open Source project with the intent that, once self-replication was acheived, a community of "rappers" would allow it to evolve with each contributed improvement being merged back into the machines "DNA."
Hence the code name "Darwin" for the initial design.
RepRap acheived self replication in May of 2008 and there are now hundreds of people building and experimenting with this Open Source hardware platform.
More after the cut