Protecting the protectors: Hillsborough teen making mask frames for military, first responders

Something Good

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) – Gavin Floyd is an unexpected hero.

The Hillsborough County 13-year-old doesn’t need a cape. Instead, he wears PPE.  

“I am 3D printing masks for local law enforcement and NYPD officers and military personnel on the floating hospital ships,” Floyd explained.

The 7th-grade Winthrop Charter School student, who has won several national science fairs, is using his skills and 3D printer and working on his greatest project to date: creating mask frames for first responders and military personnel all across the country. 

“I saw the possibility for printing these and saw the effect they can have,” said Floyd. “I downloaded the U.S. Navy’s file for 3D printing these. I would 3D print how to get about 50 of them done. It takes 10 to 15 minutes per print.” 


So far, Floyd has created over 200 masks. Once the masks are printed, each one is sterilized and vacuum packed with five filters and two antimicrobial bands.

“Then I would package them with step-by-step instructions on how to assemble them,” said Floyd. “Once I got about 50 in a box, I would ship them to wherever they need to go.” 


U.S. Army Supply Sergeant Travis Van Buren tells that his base in Rockland County, New York was one of the first to receive a shipment of Floyd’s mask frames.  

“It’s going to help. No one has enough masks, especially here in the epicenter, New York City,” said Van Buren. “For a kid to take and harness that energy, that feeling of helplessness and flip it on its head and turn it into, ‘I’m not just going to sit here and I’m not just going to play video games. I’ve got this cool 3D printer, I am going to use it and do some good.’ That’s huge.” 

Each of Floyd’s packages comes with cards, handcrafted by Winthrop Charter School’s National Honors Society, proving that the biggest support can sometimes come from the most unexpected places.  

“Anyone can have an impact at any age and helping, it does something, it’s one more mask that someone has in the areas that need them the most,” said Floyd. 

Floyd, who ultimately wants to attend a military academy and serve our country, needs additional supplies including Polylactic Acid (PLA) filament, rubber bands and filters to continue to construct mask frames.  

“I just want to make these masks for the people that protect us all the time, I want to help protect them,” said Floyd. 

To learn how you can help Gavin Floyd, email him at

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