Sam Cervantes, who served as COO of 3D printing company MakerBot until 2010, is hoping to bring 3D printing into the mainstream. His company, Solidoodle, sells basic 3D printers that don't have the resolution of something like the MakerBot. Instead, Solidoodle focuses on making durable, easy-to-use machines that are cheap enough to be bought by people who balk at the $1,749 MakerBot price tag. "A lot of the other guys are focused on making the machine really high functioning," Cervantes told Betabeat in an interview. In contrast, the second-generation Solidoodle, which went on sale last week, starts at $499, and the most expensive version is only $99 more.

Like the newest MakerBot, the Solidoodle comes pre-assembled; it can build items of around six inches in diameter. So far, we can't exactly say that a 3D printer is practical, even at such a relatively low price, unless you're in need of a truly massive number of cups and bottle openers. However, this does move the printers closer to filling the role of ubiquitous and simple building tool, which they've been heading towards for a while.