What is Tinker|Bristol?

A nonprofit manufacturing incubator and makerspace in the historic manufacturing district of Bristol, R.I., where Rhode Islanders can tinker, innovate and create products in a collaborative environment. Tapping into the regional talent pool of experts in applied product development, Tinker|Bristol will offer affordable access to shared space, 3-D printers, rapid prototyping equipment, machines, tools and technologies as well as Business Development services for new and growing manufacturing businesses.

Artist's Conceptual Renderings

Making it together

Following an integrative design process, Tinker|Bristol is being developed collaboratively, in consultation with its stakeholders—entrepreneurs, trades people, start-ups, existing businesses, inventors and makers of all stripes—as well as a broad network of leaders in manufacturing, economic development, education and the Maker Movement.

What is the mission of Tinker|Bristol?

To collaboratively engage our community in innovative making; turn ideas into inventions, develop products, apply new technologies, grow businesses, create jobs; and reclaim Rhode Island’s celebrated manufacturing tradition.

Who benefits from Tinker|Bristol?

  • Individuals, businesses and organizations who want to make things affordably:
  • Manufacturers, entrepreneurs, start-ups and emerging businesses;
  • Companies seeking to expand their business or add new capabilities and products
  • Existing businesses requiring rapid prototyping, and new technologies and processes;
  • Small companies needing shared business services or access to expertise;
  • Master tradesmen, hobbyists and makers of all stripes;
  • Bold innovators looking for the skills to commercialize their inventions
  • People of all ages who want affordable access to equipment to develop their skills
  • Un- or under-employed men and women exploring making products and manufacturing
  • Students of all degree levels, particularly those who may not be college-bound
  • Men and women transitioning from the military who want to apply their skills
  • Professionals leaving the workforce who seek to share their expertise and continue learning


Tinker|Bristol is in the historic National Rubber Company (c 1864) complex, now the Bristol Industrial Park, 500 Wood Street in downtown Bristol, RI. Listed both in the State and National Register of Historic Places, in 1931 the campus was the site of US Rubber’s cable and wire division, which at its peak during World War II employed half the population of Bristol. Many East Bay residents remember working in the Industrial Park when the site was the home of Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation from 1957-1977. The Tinker|Bristol space is leased from the I. Shalom Corporation, themselves a third generation manufacturer of clothing & accessories.

The Facility

Located on the ground floor of a well-maintained historic manufacturing building, the Tinker|Bristol space has large windows with plenty of natural light, 10’-12’ tall ceilings and some high-bay space with 20’+ clearance. There is (14,000sf ) of adjacent space available for our partners and affiliates to lease for office and/or industrial use. The building itself has multiple loading docks, a drive-in loading dock and hand-trucks and pallet jacks for communal use. The space has access to 3 phase 400amp min service or higher, depending on our needs.

When fully operational, the 12,400 sf facility will have:

  • A full metal shop and wood shop for fabricating and testing parts and finished products
  • A ‘wet’ area for paints and resins with fume hoods and spray booth
  • Rapid Prototyping equipment and areas for 3D Printers, CNC machines, and related tools
  • Areas for fabric arts, work-tables, layout spaces, and other ‘cleaner’ processes
  • Shared open office space with desks and cubicles for rent or FCFS use
  • Conference Rooms & Meeting Areas including video conferencing capabilities
  • Shared back-office support including Receptionist, Copy Center, and other services
  • Large communal meeting space for lecture series and other programming of interest
  • Café / Hang-out area to encourage community generation and innovation germination
  • Private Reserved Floor-Areas (8’x8’ or 10’x10’) for longer term projects
  • Lockable storage areas, private tool/project carts, and shelf storage

What is a “Makerspace”?

“Makerspaces” provide collaborative, interdisciplinary environments for hands-on invention and practical creativity. The Maker Movement has grown from bootstrap collectives in Makerspaces like garages and abandoned buildings to become a national phenomenon, capturing the attention of the advanced manufacturing industry. The White House recently hosted the “First Annual National Maker Faire” to highlight “…entrepreneurs and everyday citizens who are using new tools and techniques to launch businesses, learn vital [STEM skills] and lead a grassroots renaissance in American manufacturing.” Rhode Island has launched its own Manufacturing Renaissance with initiatives like the RI Advanced Manufacturing Center, ManufacturingRI.com, and elements of the Rhode Island Foundation’s Make It Happen RI campaign.

Why combine an Incubator with a Makerspace?

Research has shown that Business Incubators are diversifying their functionality to broaden their impact, while Makerspaces are harnessing their commercial potential to become self-sustaining. By embedding a Manufacturing Incubator in the collaborative culture of a Makerspace from day one, Tinker|Bristol provides cross-functional capabilities, which enhance offerings for members and tenants and increases its income potential for long term sustainability. This hybrid business model distinguishes Tinker|Bristol from innovation centers that are either exclusively business incubators or members-only workshops.

How is Tinker|Bristol different from traditional incubators?

Although trends have focused on technological innovations, there has been little innovation in how to facilitate the transfer of inventions from the garage or classroom to commercial success. Unlike traditional business incubation, Tinker|Bristol is pioneering a new approach by tapping into the makerspace culture of collaboration.

Key differentiators include:

  • Access equipment to facilitate prototyping, the acquisition of new skills and the development of new applications and technologies;
  • Open access for the community (instead of exclusively serving start-up companies and entrepreneurs) through an equipment timeshare and service bureau;
  • Leveraging Rhode Island’s homegrown talent pool of manufacturers, master trades people and inventors;
  • Access to expertise of specialists and experts in a collaborative relationship, allowing founders to focus on developing their invention instead of trying to master business skills that may not be their strengths;
  • Open to established businesses with corporate makerspace memberships, providing affordable access to equipment to help accelerate R+D and product development;
  • Room for incubated companies to grow in flexible manufacturing space immediately adjacent to Tinker|Bristol as well as in surplus space available throughout the Bristol Industrial Park.
  • Located in the heart of downtown Bristol, not isolated in a technology park or university campus.

What is the cost of joining Tinker|Bristol?

Modeled similar to a fitness gym, makerspace memberships allow access to the facilities and equipment at rates from $65/month to $200/month for early adopters. Discounts will be available to students, seniors, military and annual members. Volunteers who assist during the start-up phase and volunteer trainers and instructors will be eligible for significant discounts. Rates for incubator tenants and manufacturers include the makerspace membership plus fees for premium space and supplemental services, ranging from $100 to $300/month.

The Manufacturing
Wall of Honor

Pay tribute to the maker in your company or in your family.

Do you know someone who manufactured or made things? What is their story?

Share a photo or an object for display in Tinker|Bristol.