Tinker|Bristol is a makerspace in the making – a spot with room and equipment for hands-on invention. In Rhode Island there are several places with 3D printers and other creative tools where amateur makers can create, like AS220 in Providence, but Tinker|Bristol is the first of its kind in the state, as it will also incorporate business development services. Todd Thomas, president of Tinker|Bristol and co-founder with Andrea Rounds, as well as the co-owner of Thomas and Thomas Development, says interest has been considerable. “We’ve got a stack of support letters from industry and people interested in becoming members.”
The idea was first conceived three years ago and has the support of many in the state. The nine board members include well-known community members and business owners. The 15,000-square-foot facility is currently in place in Bristol, fitted out with a woodshop and electronic workbench equipment for everything from soldering to wave form testing. 3D printers are planned but not yet in place. “We still have fundraising to do,” Todd says.
Tinker|Bristol can accommodate the home hobbyist but offers more for small manufacturing businesses with its sizeable space, equipment on site and connections to knowledgeable people who can collaborate on ideas and share skills. “We are trying to do something for the small manufacturer and people wanting to start a small business. You can’t pull this off in a tiny space,” Todd says.
Tinker|Bristol offers a place for the small manufacturer to try out an idea before making a major investment in their own equipment, Todd says. “Rhode Island has a very vibrant and diverse manufacturing community but it’s a lot of small businesses and they need help.” The facility is the first of its kind in Rhode Island, according to Todd, but there are proven models in other locations in the country. Volunteers are welcome to help get the concept up and running. As Todd puts it: “We’re still working on the big picture, but want people to step up now.” 500 Wood Street, Bristol.