PAHNKE stands for pioneer work

For over 60 years the name PAHNKE is firmly connected with the development of hydraulic forging presses.

First professional achievements of Hans-Joachim Pahnke

Despite personal hardships as an orphan, Hans-Joachim Pahnke succeeds immediately after the 2nd World War to finish his engineering degree in two years instead of the usual three. His successful career begins with a job at the company Kreuser Wagner in Dortmund. He gains his first experience with hydraulic presses and ring rolling machines.

1954 The move to Maschinenfabrik SACK GmbH in Dusseldorf-Rath proves to be a step that significantly shapes the future life of Hans-Joachim Pahnke. As chief engineer he builds up a modern department for heavy water-hydraulic and especially oil-hydraulic machinery.

1956 The very first open-die forging press constructed at SACK under the direction of Hans-Joachim Pahnke is a revolutionary two-column design for underfloor installation. Its advantage is that in contrast to the top-heavy floor-level design, the centre of gravity is close to the hallway floor. This contributes to relatively smooth running also at high stroke rates.

1957 Hans-Joachim Pahnke develops a powerful oil-hydraulic radial piston pump. In collaborating with Wepuko Hydraulik GmbH for the first time, this is built under licence in Metzingen with the “RP” type designation. Undergoing several variations and developments, the “RP” and “RX” pumps to this day are testament of the high product standards of Wepuko PAHNKE.

1958 Development of a completely new concept for press frames, similar to the design of rolling mill stands.

1961 SACK supplies a 6.3 MN underfloor open-die forging press to the “Mannheim” forge and again in a four-column design, with a square cross-section of the columns. In this application Hans-Joachim Pahnke uses an oil-hydraulic drive for the first time. In use in the solution are the “RP” radial piston pumps manufactured at Wepuko and the in-house-designed control valves. The press is still in use at the company Vorländer in Siegen.

1965 In the same design, a 20 MN press is produced for Latrobe Steel, for the first time with double manipulators for integrated operation.

The development of the two-column press

The disadvantages of the four-column open-die forging presses are their relatively high production costs and limited accessibility.For this reason, Hans-Joachim Pahnke increasingly focuses on the design of two-column presses.However, the frame is now made of a one-piece chain-link-shaped cast steel piece.The result of stiffness calculations is a rectangular column cross-section with very high bending and torsional stiffness instead of a square column cross-section.

The principle applied in the open-die forging press in two-column underfloor design has been the standard for small and medium hydraulic forging presses from the mid-seventies.


1969: As the first press in this new two-column design, the company Wyman Gordon (Grafton, USA) receives an 18 MN open-die forging press with a one-piece cast steel frame, an oil-hydraulic drive and a rail-mounted manipulator of 7 US ton load capacity.

A 120 MN bending press for very thick hot sheet metal is produced for Combustion Engineering (Chattanooga, USA). The drive power comes from two groups of six “RP” radial piston pumps each, continuously adjustable by two central control cylinders.

1968-69: With the company Edelstahl-Witten as partner and under the management of Hans-Joachim Pahnke, the prototype of the first four-hammer forging machine is created. It is equipped with two manipulators and has a pressing force of 2.5 MN per hammer. The Russian company VSMPO later acquires such a “radial forging machine” with 8 MN pressing force, where it has been in use until 2012.

1971? Commissioning of an 80/100 MN floor-level press at Japan Casting & Forging in Tobata (Japan) with a press drive from twelve RP-500 pumps. In this two-column design, the columns are bolted together with a cross member. Instead of one, three main cylinders are used. Forging pressure of 450 bar is generated for the first time.

Until 1973: SACK GmbH supplies several other open-die forging presses in the “Wyman Gordon” two-column design: 18 MN for Sandviken Steel (Sweden), 20 MN for Uematsu (Japan), 36 MN for Pacific Metals (Japan), 27 MN for Timken (USA) and 20 MN for Techno Cogne (Italy).

The first years of PAHNKE Engineering GmbH

When SACK GmbH sold the press production business in 1973, Hans-Joachim Pahnke decided to go on his own.With his partners Fritz Thumm (Metzingen) and Eric Koik (USA) he founded PAHNKE Engineering GmbH in October of the same year in Dusseldorf.

At the same time the licensees MESTA (USA) and MNM (Mitsubishi Nagasaki Machinery, Japan) terminated their existing contracts with SACK and immediately concluded new licence agreements with PAHNKE Engineering.

1974 Hans-Joachim Pahnke signs the first complete design contract for the construction of a 5 MN underfloor open-die press with manipulator for the company MEFOS (Luleå, Sweden). The PMSD drive is used for the first time: The “PAHNKE Modified Sinusoidal Direct drive” does not require control valves for the reversal of the direction of the press movement. In addition to the regulation of operating speed and operating pressure, this function is performed by the “RP” (later "RX") high-pressure pump that is still built at Wepuko today.

1976 The MEFOS press in Luleå starts to operate. The new PMSD drive ensures outstanding results such as an extremely short start-up, smooth running even at high stroke rates and significantly lower energy consumption.

1976 PAHNKE Engineering builds a 90/110 MN floor-level open-die forging press for the French firm Creusot Loire. The first major overhaul is only done in 2010, 33 years after commissioning. During this equally long period of time, this press is the largest two-column model in the world.

1977 Hans-Joachim Pahnke ventures into Asia for his first project. The Indian government places an order for a 15 MN open-die press plant. For the first time the power for the MIDHANI press is supplied by a PMSD drive with six Wepuko RP 250 series pumps. Initial problems in the sine-wave drive are successfully eliminated under the direction of engineer Michael Pahnke, the son of Hans-Joachim Pahnke.

1977 An in-house electronics department is set up at PAHNKE Engineering in Germany to be self-sufficient in the field of microprocessor controls for forging presses.

Successful expansion of international business relations

PAHNKE open-die forging presses are also in demand in the eighties.In Germany three orders are handled almost simultaneously.Internationally, the company continues to gain a foothold, several presses and drive systems are delivered to Soviet, Chinese and Indian customers.

1979 The illness of Fritz Thumm Jr forces him to give up the management of Wepuko Hydraulik. Hans-Joachim Pahnke briefly takes over his position and appoints Prof Günther Stein as managing director.

1984/85 With three almost simultaneous orders from Germany for open-die forging presses (12 MN, 19 MN and 55 MN) with PMSD drives, PAHNKE Engineering consolidates its position against its competitors.

1986 Construction of an isothermal forging press, in which a working piston delivers four times the working speed using the same drive. For this purpose, a new cylinder concept is developed, so that the application of force of 20 MN or MN 5 always is in the same axle. The result is the first use of a cylinder with twin pistons (2 in 1).

1987 A large order from the Soviet Union consisting of a 15 MN open-die press with two manipulators and a 6.3 MN four-hammer radial forging machine, likewise with two manipulators for fully automatic forging of crude oil drilling rods.

1989 - 1993 Several orders for PAHNKE Engineering from China: two 30 MN open-die forging presses with manipulators, the modernisation of a 20 MN press with PMSD and a 10 MN press, which is dismantled in East Germany and rebuilt in Beijing.

1991/92 Joint project with Siempelkamp Pressen Systeme in Krefeld: PAHNKE Engineering supplies the hydraulic drive systems and electronic controls for a forging line for railway wheels.

1996 Hans-Joachim and Michael Pahnke take over the company Wepuko Hydraulik in Metzingen.

1997 PAHNKE Engineering in Dusseldorf is sold to a competitor.

PAHNKE companies in the USA: Pressure Systems Inc. and PAHNKE Engineering LP

One of the highlights in the successful first years is the construction of a large closed-die forging press for Weber Metals.Towards the end of the nineties, the Wepuko Inc. (USA) is founded, which later merges with Pahnke Engineering to Wepuko Pahnke Engineering LP (WPE).Fortunately, open-die forging experiences a global upturn from 2002.WPE builds several presses back to back in a short period of time, both in North and South America.

1974 Hans-Joachim Pahnke establishes Pressure Systems Inc. (PSI) in Springfield, Ohio, with Guido (Guy) Maddalena as the first president of the company.

1977 The first big order is the supply of a second manipulator of identical design for the SACK 18 MN press installed at Wyman Gordon in 1969, combined with the rebuild of the press hydraulics and equipped with new electronic controls for programmed forging. PSI undertakes the production of the manipulator hydraulics for the PAHNKE licensee MESTA, who delivers the fully manufactured manipulator to the customer.

1980 Pressure Systems supllies the hydraulic drive system for the PAHNKE/MESTA 350 MN closed-die forging press for Weber Metals in Los Angeles. In order to forge components as close as possible to the final dimensions, a hydraulic balancing system developed by Michael Pahnke is used: The operation is performed by eight cylinders with 17 MN force each, of which two of these 17 MN cylinders respectively are coupled hydraulically for the balancing task.

1989 Following the success of the 350 MN press, Weber Metals places more orders with PSI/PAHNKE: first for a 110 MN closed-die forging press, and in the subsequent years until 2007 for new electronic controls for all seven existing forging presses.

1990 Founding of PAHNKE Engineering in the USA by Michael Pahnke, Walter Westermeyer, Bill Skelley and Christa Stränger. 

From 2002 worldwide demand for new open-die forging presses shows an increase. In a relatively short time three large presses are built: a 36 MN press for Weber Metals, a 55 MN press for Union Electric in Pittsburgh and a 42 MN press for VillaresMetals in São Paulo.

Until 2008, fruitful collaboration develops with VillaresMetals. In addition to the acquisition of the 42 MN press, the company invests in plant modernisation measures. A 30 MN and a 20 MN open-die forging press get mechanical improvements and manipulators as well as a new hydraulic drive unit with electronic controls each.

From 2008 until today the company WPE has conducted numerous modernizations of forging plants for different customers. 

From Wepuko Hydraulik to Wepuko PAHNKE

Hans-Joachim Pahnke, affiliated with the company since 40 years, takes over Wepuko Hydraulik in 1996. The market for new presses stagnates at the end of the 90s, so that hydraulics and pump construction take priority in addition to the repair of existing systems. Fortunately the demand for new open-die forging presses increases again worldwide starting in 2002/03.


1996 Hans-Joachim Pahnke becomes the new owner of Wepuko Hydraulik GmbH.

1999 Michael Pahnke joins the company and takes over from his father as the sole executive one year later. Hans-Joachim Pahnke suffers severe strokes in the years that follow.

2001 and 2002 Modernisation of the PMSD drive for the 55 MN press at Buderus Edelstahl in Wetzlar.

From 2006 Wepuko Hydraulik consistently strengthens its position in the open-die forging press segment. Major orders are realised in the coming years, especially for China.

2006 A 60/70 MN overhead open-die forging press with an innovative 2-1 cylinder concept is built for Tong Di near Shanghai.

2007 In parallel to the WPE presses in America, the same 30 MN press as in the USA is produced in Germany by the parent company of Weber Metals, Fuchs in Meinerzhagen.

2007 CITIC Heavy Machine Corporation (HMC) in Luoyang orders a 165/185 MN two-column overhead press. As the world’s most powerful open-die forging press at the time, this milestone in the company’s history is put into operation at the beginning of 2011.

2007 A drive station equipped with 42 large RX 500 hydraulic oil pumps for a 360 MN steel extrusion press and a 150 MN pre-form press is built for Norheinco in Baotou, inner Mongolia. With an installed capacity of 32 MW, it also reaches a possibly record-breaking value.

2008 Another order of record-setting size is received from China for a 100 MN underfloor die press for Bao Ti, which has been successfully put into operation in the meantime.

2010 Hans-Joachim Pahnke dies on February 12 at the age of 84.

2011 and 2013 Additional press orders follow from China.

2012 A PAHNKE universal forming press is put into operation at the Institute for Metal Forming of Freiberg Technical University in Saxony. An unusual project such as this one in particular shows that Hans-Joachim Pahnke’s dedication and pioneering spirit in the field of open-die forging presses is successfully carried on with pride by his descendants.

2013 Wepuko PAHNKE Trading is founded in Moscow, Russia.