Whether it’s improving a process or simply making a better part, the drive to innovate has lifted Pax Machine Works to be one of the premier metal stampers in the United States.
Born in an out-building on the family farm near Celina, Ohio, Pax Machine Works has grown to over 450,000 square feet and 225 employees. The company celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2018, and third-generation President Mike Pax credits the employees for the company’s success.
“It’s all about our people. The innovative process goes back to our people,” Mike said. “We’ve got an exceptional group of people that come to work every day, bring great ideas to the table, and get the job done.”
Primarily serving the automotive industry, Pax is diversifying its customer base with a reputation for high precision, complex stampings.
“Our customers look to us to provide the more complicated type parts,” Mike said. “It’s about very tight tolerances, high quality and dependable delivery.”
Pax Machine Works prides itself as a “start-to-finish” supplier, beginning with designing, building and maintaining all of its own tooling. The company also utilizes unique prototyping methods that mirror the manufacturing process.
“With our production-intent prototyping, we can simulate what’s going to happen in a progressive or transfer die,” Mike said. “So when we get to the end of our development process we know that the part will be manufacturable.”
Innovation is shaping the way secondary operations are performed at Pax. Automation is being incorporated into part finishing, assembly and packaging. And, whenever possible, some of the more traditional operations — such as staking and tapping — are being done in the die to improve throughput and reduce costs.
Running a combination of both progressive and transfer dies, Pax Machine Works utilizes 26 Nidec Minster presses ranging from 100 to 1200 tons.
As the company evolved from its early days of machine repair work to stamping, Mike’s father, Francis Pax, made the decision in 1967 to purchase their first Minster straight side press.
“Back in the ‘60s we were doing work for some local companies with a few OBI presses,” Mike said. “Our activity was increasing and dad and grandpa felt we needed to look for additional capacity. Dad decided to head to Minster to get another OBI. But the folks at Minster said, ‘no that’s not what you want, you want a straight side press and here’s why.’ That was going to cost us $37,000, which was a pretty sizable sum back in the ’60s. But they came to terms and agreed that is what was needed to keep the business growing.”
Francis Pax purchased a new P2-100 Piece-Maker Press and was immediately impressed with the increase in die life, part quality and production. The purchase set in motion a trend that continues today with Pax Machine Works pushing the boundaries of its capabilities.
And the original P2-100? Fifty-two years later, the press is still in production at Pax.
“It’s an impressive machine,” said Pax Maintenance Supervisor Terry Vogel. “It still has its original bearings and gibs. I think the only thing we’ve ever updated on that press was electrical or control-related. And I can’t even begin to tell you how many parts have run.”
Reliability is one of several reasons Pax has standardized on Minster presses for its operation.
“The Minster presses just go and go,” Vogel added. “I’ve worked here for 27 years and I can only remember two or three times where we had a press failure where a press was down for an extended period of time.”
“The presses are fantastic,” Pax Production Manager Bob Heyne said. “I don’t have to worry about them. Coming in every day, it’s a rare occasion when a press is down. It’s about as worry-free as you can get.”
Pax Machine Works not only takes great pride in the appearance and upkeep of its facility but also with an in-house maintenance staff that performs preventative maintenance and repairs on all its machinery.
“We believe the Minster presses will last forever as long as you properly maintain them,” Mike Pax said. “And if we ever have any problems, Minster is a company that stands behind their product. They have proven that.”
Through the years the Pax desire to innovate has always been met with an open door at Nidec Minster.
“It starts back in the beginning as far as the cooperation and accommodation that Minster has shown us,” Pax Plant Engineering Manager Joe Hamberg said. “We’ve got ideas, and you learn from previous press installations. You learn how you want that next press to be designed and how it can be improved. With the ideas that we had, we’ve always been able to work with Minster sales and engineering to get what we want — customized.”
And over the years, some of the Pax “ideas” have been incorporated as standard design features on Minster presses.
The Pax innovations have also opened the door for the founding of its sister company — Pax Products — which is located next to the stamping plant in a 36,000-square-foot facility.
In the 1980s Francis Pax developed an in-die lubrication system, which allowed for increased production. Today Pax Products, under the leadership of President Steve Pax, markets the Pax Lube System along with die doors and conveyors to stampers around the world.
And with the innovative spirit still running strong, Mike Pax sees a bright future.
“We intend to continue to be a family business and a full-service stamper,” he said. “We need to recognize, respond to, and leverage technology in our operation. And with our great people here at Pax, we are optimistic for continued growth well into our future.”