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Evolution of an Industrial Engraving Company

Fred Knapp, the founder of Fred Knapp Engraving Co., Inc. in Racine, WI, started his industrial engraving career in 1934 as an employee of the George Gorton Machine Co. in his hometown.  In 1935, he tested the limits of the Gorton engraving machine, which was a two-dimensional, pedestal model.  He engraved the “Lord’s Prayer” on a piece of gold .005” in diameter – about the size of the point of a pin.

In 1945, he left the Gorton Co. and started his own shop in the basement of his home, where he was joined by his three sons.  Bob Knapp joined his father in September of 1945.  Ray Knapp joined the company in 1946 and Rich Knapp joined the company in 1948.  The company specialized in steel marking stamps, engraved signs and dials.  Jobs varied from nameplates that could only be read by a magnifying glass to 3’ x 10’ signs for airports and hotels. 


A new building was erected in 1955 and the company added model and mold work to their engraving capabilities.  They now had 14 Gorton machines and a complete tool room.  Knapp Engraving became recognized as an outstanding tool and die maker.


Some of the unique jobs during this time included:  making an attachment to engrave initials on the side facets of diamonds, designing another attachment to engrave raised letters about the oval of a class ring using straight line copy and machining some of the first titanium impeller blades for jet engines.


The company also manufactured miniature molds, one of which put three holes .022” diameter into plastic tubing for use in catheter procedures.  In 1961, the company entered the plastic injection field specializing in intricate and detailed parts.  Parts were made for aircraft instrument components, medical equipment and spray tips for aerosol cans.  In 1975, the company purchased the Fluidic Div. of Johnson Controls in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In 1993, three longtime employees, Jay Haertel, John Boticki and David Horvath, purchased the company.  Since then, the business has evolved  into a Plastic Injection Molding facility while maintaining the strong reputation the Knapp family established. The company transitioned from machine engraving and is now recognized as a precision plastic injection molding & tool and die maker. Twelve additions have been completed to the original building to accommodate expanding growth. I


In 2013, Fred Knapp Engraving Co. became Knapp MFG., INC. to better represent the business today.

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5102 Douglas Ave

Racine, WI 53402 

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(262) 639-3941

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