The chronicle of Wepuko PAHNKE GmbH

History - From cloth makers to mechanics and pump manufacturers

Due to the location of mills along the river Erms, by the 18th century there are many cloth manufacturers in Metzingen. Gradually these mills are converted into factories and the first industrial area develops next to the Erms. The opening of the Plochingen- Metzingen-Reutlingen railway line in 1859 enhances the importance of Metzingen as an industrial location. With coal, which can be transported cheaply and easily by train, steam power can be used as additional source of energy. Thus the cloth industry becomes independent of water power. It is a then logical step to produce these steam boilers locally and in 1860 the first machine factory in Metzingen is founded.

A new beginning and the ”economic miracle”

1888 The mechanic Friedrich Krumm opens amechanical workshop in Urach to repair machines and also to produce fruit and berry presses.

1892 Krumm builds his first engine from plans made by his brother-in-law Gustav Magenwirth, who has also worked with Carl Benz in Mannheim.

1894 Krumm and Magenwirth become partners and Magenwirth designs his first petrol engines.

1898 The partners split up. Krumm continues with his workshop and Magenwirth starts a machine factory.

1906 Friedrich Krumm joins up with the machine technician Georg Glück. The company “Glück und Krumm“ is founded.

1908 Friedrich Krumm leaves the company and Georg Glück finds a new partner – the merchant Karl Wahle. The company „Glück und Wahle“ operates a machine factory in Urach.

1910 The partners separate and Glück sells the factory to the engineer Wilhelm von Neudeck. The new owner continues with the manufacturing program of the machine factory Glück, but then - at suggestion of his neighbour, Gustav Magenwirth - he begins to produce cutting tools which are used to machine pump parts.

1917 Wilhelm von Neudeck acquires together with a partner the former cloth maker factory Esche (founded in 1864) in Metzingen.

1921 The company moves from Urach to Metzingen and from the middle of the 1920s the company is named “Werkzeugfabrik Metzingen Wilhelm von Neudeck“.

1924 The mechanical engineer Fritz Thumm joins the company and supports Wilhelm von Neudeck with the management of the company.

1931 After the death of Wilhelm von Neudeck, Eugenie von Neudeck puts Fritz Thumm in charge to manage the company.


1932 On 24th May 1932 Fritz Thumm founds the “Pumpen- und Kompressorenfabrik Metzingen“ parallel to the operation of the tool company. The company’s history begins.

1933 The products of the company are delivered to The Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Switzerland. The most important customer is the machine factory “Werner & Pfleiderer“ in Cannstatt. That remains the case until the1980’s.

1934 On 20th November 1934 the company is merged with the Werkzeugfabrik Metzingen von Neudeck. The company “Werkzeug-, Pumpen-und Kompressorenfabrik von Neudeck & Co“ is created. The first three words form the basis for the later used abbreviation „Wepuko“.

1948 In the first post-war years, Swabian noodle machines, lighters and wood splitting machines are produced. It is not until 1948 that the company resumes designing pumps and compressors.

The first vertical oil hydraulic pump is ready for serial production. In the following years 1954, oil and water hydraulic high pressure pumps for driving hydraulic presses are launched.

Fritz Thumm makes his son Fritz Thumm jr. a co-partner and appoints him as managing director. At the same time Hans-Joachim Pahnke joins Sack GmbH in Düsseldorf as head of a hydraulics department to be set up by him.


1956 The first open-die forging press is built under the management of Hans-Joachim Pahnke. It is a revolutionary two-column push-up press. Hans-Joachim Pahnke becomes a pioneer. Very quickly imitators appear. In the same year the company Wepuko presents a newly developed air-cooled, portable high pressure compressor for breathing apparatus.

1957 Hans-Joachim Pahnke develops the radial piston pump type RP, which is manufactured by Wepuko under license. The foundation for a fruitful cooperation has been laid.

1961 The first open-die forging press from Hans-Joachim Pahnke, which has an oil drive with the radial piston pump RP, is sold to the „Mannheim” forge. Further orders follow immediately afterwards. Wepuko develops and designs the DP 50 triplex plunger pump. It is the cornerstone of  a new pump series.

1965 A 20 MN open-die forging press is delivered to Latrobe Steel in the same design as the „Mannheim“ and one year later a 27 MN open-die forging press is delivered to Union Electric. The installation for Latrobe Steel is the first open-die forging line ever to be equipped with two manipulators for integrated work.

1966 After the death of Fritz Thumm the company management is taken over by his son Fritz Thumm jr.


1969 Hans-Joachim Pahnke devotes himself again to the two-column design. Wyman Gordon takes delivery of an 18 MN open-die forging press with two columns and an innovative cast steel frame in a single piece.

1970 Only one year later Hans-Joachim Pahnke invents a hydraulically driven four hammer forging machine. Hans-Joachim Pahnke called this type of machine a „radial forging machine“ with hydraulic drive.

1971 An 80/100 MN open-die forging press, driven by 12 RP  pumps, is built for Japan Casting & Forging (JCF). For the first time, in addition to a working pressure of 315 bar, an upsetting pressure of 450 bar is achieved by using three main cylinders.

1973 The new DP 400 series of triplex plunger pumps is designed and developed.

SACK GmbH sells the press manufacturing division. Hans-Joachim Pahnke decides to become independent. Together with his partners Fritz Thumm jr. and Eric Koik (USA) he founds PAHNKE Engineering GmbH in Düsseldorf.


1974 To begin with the young company PAHNKE Engineering GmbH mainly plans forging plants. These include a forging machine for special metals in Dunkirk (USA), a 50 MN open-die forge for Björneborg in Sweden and a 10 MN pre-forging facility for Villares in Brazil.
Pressure Systems Inc. (PSI), Hans-Joachim Pahnke‘s first company in the USA, is founded. Its president is Guido (Guy) Maddalena. For American customers, the entire process - from order acceptance and production to delivery and assembly - can now take place entirely in America.

1975 At Wepuko the development of newly designed oil hydraulic pumps – series RF, RH and RV begins.

1976 The first press under the name PAHNKE goes into operation at MEFOS in Luleå (Sweden). The „Pahnke Modified Sinus Direct Drive“ (PMSD drive) is used for the first time. It enjoys great success.

PAHNKE Engineering builds a 90/110 MN open-die forging press for the French company Creusot Loire (today Creusot Forge/Areva). It will not undergo its first general overhaul until 33 years after commissioning. Over an equally long period of time, this press has been the largest two-column press in the world.


1977 Michael Pahnke, son of Hans-Joachim Pahnke, starts his professional career at Pressure Systems Inc. His first projects included the design and installation of a PMSD drive for a forging plant in the USA.

1979 Fritz Thumm jr. falls seriously ill, and has to give up his management position. Hans-Joachim Pahnke takes over the management temporarily and soon employs Professor Günther Stein as managing director.

1980 The first PAHNKE plant in Asia goes into operation: A 15 MN open-die forging press with two manipulators for MIDHANI in India. The optimization of the sinusoidal drive is supervised by Michael Pahnke. Based on the success of this plant, further orders follow in India and France.

A 300 / 350 MN drop forging press is built for Weber Metals in Los Angeles. A hydraulic balancing system developed by Michael Pahnke is used to forge aviation components as close to their final dimensions as possible .

1983 The new large-capacity oil hydraulic pump type “RX” is designed as the successor to the RP.

On 16th October 1983 Fritz Thumm jr. dies.


1984 Michael Pahnke is appointed design manager of PAHNKE Engineering GmbH.

1986 The new office building is completed on the Wepuko site in Metzingen.

1990 Michael Pahnke is appointed Managing Director of PAHNKE Engineering GmbH, alongside Hans-Joachim Pahnke, who retains his position as Managing Director but takes over the management of the engineering department in the day-to-day operations of the company.

1991 At Wepuko in Metzingen the new testing facility is put into operation.

1993 The first complete descaling plant from Wepuko is delivered. Wepuko is certified according to ISO 9001.

1995 A 30 MN forging press is built for Simmaco in China.


1996 The Pahnke family becomes the owner of Wepuko Hydraulik GmbH.

1997 The newly designed DP 212 is put into operation for the first time. It forms the basis for the DP 200 series.

1998 Michael Pahnke becomes Managing Director of Wepuko Hydraulik GmbH.

2002 The business divisions pumps and presses are combined „under one roof“ in Metzingen.

2006 A new production hall and an extension for the assembly hall are added to the site.

2007 The CITIC Heavy Machine Corporation (HMC) in Luoyang (China) orders a 165/185 MN two-column open-die forging press in pull-down design. As the most powerful press of its type to date, it goes into operation at the beginning of 2011.



2008 An 60/70 MN open-die forging press with PMSD drive and an innovative 2-in-1 cylinder concept is built for Tongdi, near Shanghai.

2009 In Baotou, Inner Mongolia, a PMSD drive for a 360 MN steel extrusion press and a 150 MN preform press go into operation.

The system with 42 RX 500 pumps becomes the largest hydraulic system in the world

2010 Wepuko is honoured by Wolfgang Clement with the TOP JOB award.

In addition, the TigeR day care centre opens on the company premises in cooperation with the Tagesmütterverein Reutlingen.

2011 The company is renamed from Wepuko Hydraulik GmbH to Wepuko PAHNKE GmbH.

Tanja Pahnke is appointed 2nd managing director.

In cooperation with Krytem, the development of the „HLEP“ cryopump (high-performance injection pump) for media with temperatures  as low as -196 °C begins.

2012 A 10 MN universal forming press with PMSD drive is inaugurated at the Institute of Metal Forming at the TU Freiberg. The press handles several different forming processes and is unique worldwide.

The subsidiary Wepuko PAHNKE Systems is opened in China.


2014 The DP 532-250, the largest pump ever built by Wepuko, is ready. Six of these are used on oil production vessels (FPSO) of the Brazilian Petrobras Group.

2015 The office building in Metzingen is extended.

2016 Construction of a 31.5/38 MN open-die forging press with PMSD drive begins at CHW Forge in India. The installation of the complete system takes only eight months.

It  is inaugurated on July 24th, 2017.

2017 The extremely compact DPX 105 triple plunger pump is introduced. It is the first representative of the new DPX series.

Tanja Pahnke becomes sole managing director of WepukoPAHNKE GmbH.

2018 Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) awards the contract for a high-speed forging press with two rail-bound manipulators for the forging of superalloy materials.

2020 VSMPO Russia,  world's largest producer of titanium alloys Delivery of a new 40/48MN underfloor press with PMSD-drive.

2021 MMK Russia Descaling plant.

AVIC-Shangda, China Installation of a high-speed forging press 50/60MN UFP with PMSD drive.


The chronicle of Hans-Joachim Pahnke

In this book by author Hans Werstermeyer, a former employee and later partner of Hans-Joachim Pahnke, the groundbreaking development of the open-die forging press through Hans-Joachim Pahnke is documented and illustrated with original photographs.

Watch the book