Hey man actually I can tell you from personal experience when it comes to using 3ds max and blender.
Some small background. I am a Blender Head, I got a job at a studio in anchorage, ak as a 3d modeler. My work I showed was all in Blender. I had to learn 3ds max cause that was the software they had invested so much money into and a standard for what they were doing. So learning max was cake. But honestly I hated it. I’ll explain at the end of my post why.
So as for using max and blender. If you want to export and have it translate into max unscathed make sure that you export as an .fbx Blender supports this file format, and its pretty universal for anything Autodesk. Plus sometimes exporting .obj depending on your settings will tessellate the hell out of your model. Another thing to note that most Blender heads don’t pay attention to is SCALE! Now I say this cause max is very big on scale. Most 3d apps are. But this doesn’t occur to most until they start working in a semi-professional environment or just start doing work for other people where you might have to share files and such. So make sure that you fiddle around with the scale settings in Blender and export a couple fbx’s to see how it translates into max.
Now as for your problem when converting your Blender files to editable poly’s in max. Here are some tips to solve some common translating problems between these two. (Btw, they don’t like to play well together with out some finessing Remember DON’T BLEND IN!" haha) Any way onward…
Make sure that if you use the “edge Split Modifier” in Blender to turn it off or remove it from the modifier stack before exporting! Or just use the check box in the fbx exporter settings to “NOT” apply modifiers.
Make sure your normals are all situated… And by that I mean all though it may appear your normals are fine and dandy you should all ways go into edit mode in Blender and all select with “A” and use the Tools (T), (Remove Doubles) and (Recalculate Normals) always before exporting.
These are the main things I have ran into at work.
As for bringing things back into Blender, max has a Blender Preset built into its .obj exporter. And to save you a small amount of time make sure that you export as quads, not tris. But just note that when until Blender implements BMesh any N-sided polys you have in max will be tessellated. But that should be solved soon enough.
If you have any more questions feel free to ask.
Okay, now for my (I’ll make it small) rant on why I am not “fond” of 3ds Max…
Aside from the disclaimer Ton pointed out in Autodesk Liceans Agreement, Since I was little and was interested in 3d art and such I thought that such a high dollar commercial program should run flawlessly, and work for the artist. This I have found out is the exact opposite, and in turn has made me next to near worship and obsess over Blender. (Not like I didn’t before), but non-the less I am unbiased and took in Max like it was an exciting tool to add to my knowledge base.
Well since my time mastering 3ds Max, and using it on a day to day basis now for quite sometime I can honestly say that I believe Blender is a much better, and stable product dollar for dollar… As funny as that is, It is the most truth that has ever left my lips… (not saying I am untrustworthy)…
Using 3ds Max in a production setting is almost painful at times. The amount of times that it crashes during the day on average is 10… 10 times. And that is doing basic work, or as I would like to say at work, “Boxes and Splines” TM Another thing that I can’t get past is how much slower it is modeling things. Some will argue that its because I am not as proficient enough at Max. Well I am very proficient at Max. I even had a small time challenge with a co-worker who has been to college and has been using Max for years… Needless to say I won. Blender in hand btw
I will stop there. I could go on to weigh out other things like how Blender is better for initial and final cost in a business and professional setting, as well as its expansive toolset in comparison to just about* every 3d modeling suite out there. But that is a beaten horse and I will close here.
So hope my info helped, and as before, any more questions just ask. I will strive to make your life with the boxing match that is Blender and Max playing together a easy road to follow.