SMM Showcases Containership Propeller

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Visitors to SMM 2006 won't be able to miss the enormous exhibit, symbolizing shipbuilding, displayed in front of the East Entrance of Hamburg Trade Fair. It will provide promotion for the 22nd shipbuilding, machinery & marine technology, international trade fair Hamburg from September 26th-29th. The 93t heavyweight is due to arrive at Hamburg Trade Fair on September 20 and will be lowered on to its stand. The prop is to be transported to the show straight from Waren on the Müritz in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, the production location of Mecklenburger Metallguss GmbH (MMG). According to its manager Manfred Urban, MMG covers about a quarter of global requirements and as much as 60% of demand for propellers weighing over 80t. The screw has, like many others, six blades and a not excessively spectacular diameter of 8.55m. A more imposing propeller just in terms of weight would be that of the recently delivered Emma Maersk, currently the world's largest containership with a capacity of 13,400 TEU, length of 397m and width of 56m. This 135t component was also delivered by the MMG specialists. The most impressive aspect of the current SMM propeller is its speed potential. The speed plays a subordinate role in the production process for such a propeller, the main priority being achieving the utmost precision and the very finest quality. If the 130t of liquid metal is not cast exactly without inclusions and flaws, the whole process has to be repeated for a new propeller. It takes 15 minutes for the expensive alloy of approx. 80% copper, 9% aluminium, 5% nickel, only 4.5% iron and 1.5% manganese to spread out in the sand mould. In this quarter of an hour everything must be just right: the chemical composition and gas content of the alloy, the temperature of the molten mass and the casting speed. The casting has to cool off for about two weeks before a start can be made with the mechanical processing. This is performed initially on state-of-the-art computer-controlled milling and other cutting machines before experienced employees give the propeller the finishing touches, including the familiar scaly surface look.

After its presentation at SMM 2006, the MMG propeller will be taken to Volkswerft Stralsund, where the third in a series of seven identical express containerships is now under construction for the London-based shipping line Maersk Company. The first of these vessels, the "Maersk Boston", was delivered in April 2006, while the second, the "Maersk Baltimore", is to be delivered shortly. The SMM catalogue is a featherweight compared with what MMG can produce. Propellers of up to 150t can currently be crafted on the Müritz. It will probably be some time before containerships also grow out of this weight class. However, the experts still disagree on whether two main engines driving two propellers would then be the more effective and cost-efficient solution.

As many as 1,669 companies from more than 50 countries and 40,000 trade visitors from all over the world are expected to attend SMM 2006 in Hamburg. The show will be open from Tuesday September 26th to Friday September 29th 2006, daily from 9.30 am-6 pm.

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